The research team is involved in a number of research projects to investigate the clinical profile of different subgroups of patients with demyelinating disease in Western Australia, including relapsing-remitting and primary progressive MS, optico-spinal forms (OSMS), neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and transverse myelitis, and the influence of HLA alleles and haplotypes on disease susceptibility and clinical and laboratory characteristics.
The team is working in collaboration with Professor F Christiansen and the Department of Clinical Immunology at the Royal Perth Hospital. New serological techniques for detecting antibodies to aquaporin-4 have been developed in collaboration with Professor P Hollingsworth and the Department of Clinical Immunology at the QEII Medical Centre and are being evaluated in the large cohort of patients in the Perth Demyelinating Diseases Database (PDDD) to determine what role this antibody has in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Collaboration with Professor S Mallal at the Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Murdoch University aims to investigate genetic epistasis and the interaction of viral infections in MS.
In addition, the Group has established important collaborations with centres at Capital University of Medical Sciences, Beijing (Professor XJ Zhang) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Professor Q Cheng) in China and Kyushu University in Japan (Professor J-I Kira) to carry out comparative studies in Asian and West Australian cohorts of patients with different forms of demyelinating disease and has played a key role in the establishment of the Pan-Asian MS Registry to investigate regional differences in the prevalence of MS in Asia and the Pacific region.
New forms of pharmacotherapy for patients with demyelinating disorders are being investigated and the Group is participating in international multi-centre therapeutic trials of new agents for the treatment of MS.