In 2008, seven researchers were awarded grants by MSIF enabling them to travel to work on MS projects in Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the UK.
Mathew, a PhD student from the University of Newcastle in Australia, used his £4500 grant to spend six months in the laboratory of Dr. Sawcer (Prof. Alistair Compston's group) in Cambridge University UK, where he analysed common variations in MS susceptibility genes. The aim of the project was to determine whether any of these variations were associated with an increased risk of developing MS. Following examination of 19 common variations in 5 genes, Mathew found that none of these variations were associated with an increased risk of developing MS (publication in process).
The visit to the Cambridge Neuroscience group has provided me the opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the field of MS genetics, and to work in an environment dedicated to MS research.
ECTRIMS 2010 - Immunology abstract (37 kb)
The £1735 grant allowed Stefan to spend 11 days in Australia, during which time he attended a workshop on Psychoneuroimmunology of MS at the MS Society NSW headquarters in Sydney and visited the two main sites of the ongoing longitudinal AUSIMMUNE study, at the Menzies Institute in Hobart/Tasmania and the National University in Canberra/ACT.
The visit successfully established a collaboration with the AUSIMMUNE study group. We will expand this collaboration with a joint grant application to MSRA in May. In addition, two of my abstract have been submitted and accepted for presentation at the MSRA Scientific Meeting in Sydney in mid-October 2009.
Harald, a group leader at the Neurologische Universitätsklinik in Düsseldorf, used his £4000 grant to spend four months in the Division of Neuroimmunology, University of Zurich, where he learned several essential immunological technologies and applied them to characterizing immune cell changes in the sphingosine-1-phosphate/sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor system. He was supervised by Dr. Becher. The data obtained from this work could shed light on the mechanism of action of a class of new immunosuppressive drugs, (e. g. FTY720), which act as agonists on S1P receptors.
The results of this work can potentially lead to a better understanding of immune cell migration, in particular under the condition of CNS autoimmunity.
Jack van Horssen
Jack, a postdoctoral researcher from the VU medical center in the Netherlands, used his £2000 grant to spend two months in the MS Clinic and Neuroimmunology lab in Montreal, where he worked with Dr. Alexandre Prat and Prof. Dr. Jack Antel. The primary goal of his visit was to obtain practical expertise with primary cell cultures of human brain endothelial cells and human oligodendrocytes to study neuroinflammation. He was also involved in two other projects concerning the role of Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) and ninjurin-1 in neuroinflammation.
I learned two novel cell culture isolation techniques, which I am now implementing in Amsterdam… I will also pass on my knowledge to other people in our laboratory and other research groups. Lastly, I strengthen the ongoing collaboration with Dr Prat and coworkers.
The £5000 grant helped Marcus, a neurologist from the Groningen University Medical Center, to visit the University of British Columbia in Canada, where he worked on the epidemiology of progressive forms of MS with Dr. Helen Tremlett who was herself a 2006 Du Pré grant recipient.
Marcus spent a year in Vancouver working on several projects. Using the British Columbia MS database, he was able to confirm earlier findings that primary progressive MS starts at an earlier age in patients with a family history of MS, suggesting that the disease course of PPMS may be influenced by a heritable factor. He was also able to identify factors associated with the prognosis of primary progressive and secondary progressive MS.
In addition to my research activities, I also got the opportunity to observe the clinical work at the MS clinic, and to attend grand rounds and other research and clinical meetings at the University of British Columbia. The stay in Vancouver was a great professional and personal experience for me and my family.
Amir Hadi Maghzi
The £4,500 grant helped Amir Hadi Maghzi, a 4th year medical student from the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, to spend 12 weeks under the supervision of Prof Gavin Giovannoni at the Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and the London School of Medicine in London.
Using techniques such as ELISA and flow cytometry learned during his visit, he investigated the role of Epstein Barr virus in multiple sclerosis aetiology, and the association between MS and Natural Killer cell dysfunction.
After winning this grant I became more serious in my research activities and intend to base my future career on MS in both research and clinical aspect, in hope of helping (even a little!) the community of MS patients.
Thanks to this grant I was given the title of “Visiting Research Fellow” at the host institution which I will hold this for the next two years. I was involved in many research projects including mostly on epstein barr virus and cell immunology. which I hope to publish the results in near future.
These visits and interaction with people at the neuroimmunology department provided me with valuable experiences which I will take back to my home institution and hope this could improve our research centre in Isfahan. We have established many collaborations between our MS centre in Isfahan with the London group.
ECTRIMS 2010 - Immunology abstract (37 kb)
Camilla Reali a Masters’ student from the University of Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria, Monserrato, Italy, used her £5000 grant to spend six months in the laboratory of Prof. Richard Reynolds at the Department of Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience, Imperial College, London, where she studied the mechanisms of demyelination and neurodegeneration in the spinal cord in MS. Camilla’s research focused on the study of spinal cord in a subset of secondary progressive MS cases that exhibit ectopic B-lymphocyte follicle formation in the cerebral meninges, which is associated with greater cortical demyelination, axonal loss, a reduced time to disability and a shorter life expectancy. She showed that the extent of total demyelination and the number of lesions in the spinal cord were significantly higher in follicle positive (F+) cases, suggesting that the greater demyelination in the spinal cord of F+ SPMS cases may contribute to the more severe clinical disease course of this group of patients.
This visit has given me the opportunity to start my studies on multiple sclerosis, thus opening a new research field for my group at the University of Cagliari in Italy. As a direct result of the Du Pré Grant, I requested and obtained a fellowship from ECTRIMS in order to extend my research on MS at Imperial College for another year.