American MS Society recognises Australian researcher

Tuesday, 18 October, 2005

Investigative research into the novel origins of nerve fibre damage in Multiple Sclerosis by Australian, Jacqueline Orian has been rewarded with a US$372,300 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of America (NMSS).

MS Research Australia has supported the work of Dr Orian for a number of years, assisting in her early investigations into understanding nerve cells and fibre damage.

A first of its kind in Australia, Dr Orian's research aims to determine how nervous system damage occurs in pre-symptomatic stages of MS.

"My interest is in determining why specific supporting cells in the brain and spinal cord, known as astrocytes, which should contribute to the restoration of balance in a positive way, fail to do so and at what point in the disease process this occurs," said Dr Orian.

At present, the research team at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and collaborator Dr Margaret Ayers, University of Melbourne has found evidence of nerve fibre damage, together with changes to astrocytes, prior to the onset of symptoms of MS-like disease in mice.

Astrocytes are known to be involved in later scarring that occurs in MS, but they have not previously been thought to be involved early on in the disease. Our basic premise is to establish whether there is a link between these early changes and nerve fibre injury."

"This new funding, along with the ongoing support from MS Research Australia will help us get closer to the answers and may lead to ways to protect nerve tissue," Dr Orian said.

According to Jeremy Wright, executive director of MS Research Australia, Dr Orian's investigation is assisting MS Research's neurobiology research direction and will accelerate progress through cause and cure for MS.

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