More than 30,000 Australians living with multiple sclerosis could get access to a potential new treatment as experts say a breakthrough may be on the horizon.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide will use genetically modified mice to test whether proteins can be targeted to divert cells that cause the chronic autoimmune disease from entering the brain.
Drugs that specifically target these proteins to block their function will then be used and if successful, could lead to life-changing medicine.
MS is a disease caused by nerve damage in the brain and spinal cord which affects the central nervous system and muscle control.
It causes the immune system to attack myelin, which is the protective layer around nerve fibers, resulting in communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
Lead researcher Dr Iain Comerford, who secured $246,953 in funding from MS Australia, said the study was essential in better understanding MS, which still has no cure.
“This research is important because if it is successful then it could lead to the development of new drugs that can better treat MS,” Dr Comerford said.
The number of Australians living with MS, which may be caused by genetic or environmental factors, has increased in recent years, according to MS Australia.
About 33,335 Australians were living with MS in 2021, a 30 per cent increase from 25,607 in 2017.
The three-year study is one of 22 new projects being funded by MS Australia this year.
(Australian Associated Press)