Meet The Researcher

Dr Saadallah Ramadan

Dr Saadallah Ramadan

The University of Newcastle, NSW

Let’s get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
Having a background in chemistry enables me to look into most challenges in a chemical way and to segment everything into very small “packets” and work upwards. Chemistry introduced me into magnetism and its effects on molecules, which in turn led me to study complex molecular assemblies (e.g. brains) using magnetism!
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
Since I started my current position, I was introduced into MS research via a collaborative project using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I was later attracted to MS research more due to the presence of challenges and unmet needs that need to be addressed in a multidisciplinary manner. Collaboration with a world leading team enabled me to address these challenges in an effective manner.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
In my view, the most exciting discovery in MS research took place when a new FDA approved drug (rituximab) to treat autoimmune disease (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) was approved for treatment directed against B cells in MS patients. This led to the reduction of lesion formation by 91% in treated MS patients compared to un-treated patients. The study showed not only that B cells somehow played a role in causing the disease, but that when B cells were depleted by the drug, brain inflammation was almost immediately shut down.
Tell us about your current research project...
Fatigue treatment remains a key unmet need in MS. Treatments that improve brain cells function could offer neuro-protection and slow neurological damage. This study proposes a novel combination of agents to reduce fatigue, depression and whole brain shrinkage. In this project, MRI techniques will be used for the first time to assess the usefulness of an affordable combined supplemental agents including around 20 ingredients, in combating fatigue and depression in a relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) cohort.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
The proposed study will test whether this nutritional supplement can help reduce/eliminate fatigue and depression in people with MS. Fatigue and depression are common symptoms, highly significant and major causes of disability in MS and inability to participate in the work force. The study will advance our understanding in mechanistic control and progression of neurodegenerative disease. The therapy is a unique combination of around 20 ingredients that are specifically designed to support, protect and bolster the cellular function. The ingredients include biotin, folic acid and other vitamins and minerals. A number of the ingredients have already been shown to have some benefits in MS or in other health conditions. However, the combination is designed to be a multi-pronged approach to specifically support the cellular function to target the symptoms of MS. To demonstrate that ingestion of these nutrients have an immediate effect on the brain, where the pathology of MS is located, would be the ultimate proof of concept.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
The most exciting event that could happen to me is when I discover new knowledge that might improve someone’s life. I enjoy working on new and challenging problems, such as the fatigue reduction challenge that I am working on here, which has the potential to improve the lives of people with MS. I have met previous challenges in magnetic resonance and their applications to different body organs, and was able to design novel designs for optimal performance.
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Saadallah Ramadan