Health Futures Institute

Identifying the cause of multiple sclerosis

Murdoch researchers are delving into the clinical, laboratory, radiological, and genetic aspects of multiple sclerosis (MS) to increase our understanding of what causes the disease. These findings are fundamental in developing better diagnostic strategies and effective treatments.


Areas of research

Molecular Medicine, Multiple Sclerosis

Technology utilised


Lead researchers

Professor Allan Kermode


What was the need for this project?

MS is the most common cause of non-traumatic neurological disability often affecting young adults. Over 25,000 Australian suffer from MS, which is known to cause inflammatory damage to the central nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

To date, there is no way of effectively preventing MS, and while current treatments are often effective in keeping MS inactive, these approaches are limited. Although these treatments can modify the immune system, they do not target the fundamental cause of the illness.


How the project was completed

The research has focused on examining interactions between genetic risk factors like variants in immune related genes, environmental factors such as low sunlight exposure as well as infection-associated risk factors with MS disease.

Over 2,000 MS patients have been recruited in Western Australia to take part in MS research with comprehensive long-term follow up studies. One component of the study is investigating inflammatory cells obtained directly from post-mortem MS lesions, and identifies the specific target of the autoimmune inflammatory process. This will provide new insights and facilitate development of new therapeutic strategies.


Results and achievements for this project

The findings from this research have helped to improve diagnosis and development of novel therapeutic strategies that can be applied in clinical practice to improve patient outcomes.

The next phase of the study will investigate immediate post-mortem unbiased single cell sequencing and transcriptomics to identify immune targets in multiple sclerosis.


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