Meet The Researcher

Dr Jeremy Keane

Westmead Institute for Medical Research, NSW

Let's get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I love to swim, run, and listen to classic rock music.
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
As a pharmacist I’ve seen over the years how newer MS therapies are positively impacting the lives of people with MS, but also how existing therapies are nowhere near satisfactory. Now that we have a better understanding of this complex disorder, there are several exciting new research approaches available for finding better or more personalised treatments for patients.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
Thanks to the collaborative approach of top MS researchers worldwide, there are now over 200 genes implicated in the disease, which provides a solid platform from which to better understand the disease.
Tell us about your current research project...
There is a marked gender effect in MS, with women significantly more affected than men. Certain immune cells infected with Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) express MS risk genes differently in cells from men compared to those from women. In this study, we seek to determine if these differences are caused by different responses to sex hormones.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
Currently there is a lack of understanding around the gender imbalance in MS. This project aims to determine whether Epstein-Barr virus infection of B cells may be involved in the increased risk of MS in females. It will answer the question of whether EBV proteins affect the expression of MS risk genes in a gender-dependent manner, and if hormones are also involved in this mechanism.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
I enjoy the activity of the lab, and the productive feeling that comes with trying to answer my research questions. The challenge is to optimise the experiments needed, but this can be overcome with the assistance and input of experienced MS researchers both in Australia and overseas.
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Jeremy Keane