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Demyelinating Disease

Demyelinating diseases are conditions that result in damage to the myelin sheath, a protective covering surrounding the nerve fibres in the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. This causes slowed or stopped nerve impulses leading to neurological problems. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system (CNS).

MS signs and symptoms include; impaired motor control and balance, visual disturbances, impaired sensation and bladder function, cognitive problems.

MS is the most common cause of non-traumatic neurological disability in young adults, resulting in a significant personal cost and an enormous burden on the health system, estimated at over $1.7 billion annually in Australia in 2017.

Research Focus

The cause of MS is not known but it is believed that the disease begins with an environmental trigger such as a viral infection, in individuals who have a genetic susceptibility. This results in an autoimmune process confined to the central nervous system (CNS).

Demyelinating Diseases Research, led by Clinical Professor Allan Kermode, is dedicated to investigating the causes of MS and improving the treatment and management of those living with MS and related diseases.

Understanding how the immune-mediated damage in the CNS occurs is the key to understanding MS and to developing new treatments. The Demyelinating Diseases Research Group is involved in several research projects to investigate new forms of pharmacotherapy and engage in international collaborations and is an active member of the IMSGC, ANZGene, MSBase and the Progressive MS Alliance.

We are continuing ongoing research into the clinical profile of different subgroups of patients with demyelinating disease in Western Australia, and the influence of immune-related genes and the role of the antibody in the development of demyelinating diseases.


  • 2022 Perron Institute Aspire Award (Dr Marzena Pedrini)
  • 2019 Member of the Order of Australia (Clinical Prof William Carroll)
  • 2019 Best Young Investigator Award (Dr Stephanie Trend)
  • 2012 Western Australian of the Year (Clinical Prof William Carroll)


  • CMMIT Perron Institute Collaboration Grant for "Project SCORE Music and Walking for Neurology: the effect of auditory cues and music during walking on movement quality and motivation in persons with multiple sclerosis." (2021)
  • Pedrini (AI): Learmonth, Kermode, Shaykevich, Harvey, Vallence. MSRA Incubator Grant for “The effect of auditory cues and music during walking on movement quality and exercise motivation in persons with multiple sclerosis” (2021)
  • Trend, Hart, Kermode, French. MS Research Australia led by Telethon Kids Institute for "Investigating the expression and function of peripheral blood Fc gamma receptors in MS." (2020-2022)
  • CMMIT Perron Institute Collaboration Grant for "Guidelines for exercise in multiple sclerosis (GEMS+), effectiveness and clinical translation." (2020-2021)

Dr Marzena Pedrini, MS researcher, wins Perron Institute Aspire Award 2022

Investigating the causes of multiple sclerosis and the potential for improved treatment of this distressing neurological disorder is the research focus of the 2022 Perron Institute Aspire Award winner, Dr Marzena Fabis-Pedrini, PhD, pictured here with Steve Arnott, CEO, Perron Institute.

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