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Fellowship to continue breakthough MS research

Media Release
25 August 2005

W.M.R.F Fellowship awarded to continue research into MS Breakthrough

It’s our greatest leap towards curing MS in recent years and, with the support of the Wellington Medical Research Foundation, this vital research is now guaranteed to continue…

Dr Thomas Bäckström, head of the Malaghan Institute’s Multiple Sclerosis research group, is undertaking cutting edge research into a super-antigen that, when modified in the lab, halts MS in a laboratory model. In recognition and support for this exciting work he has been awarded the WMRF Haematology Senior Research Fellowship for two years with an option for a third.

Dr Bäckström is very appreciative, saying “this support will allow us to continue our great results in stimulating blood-borne suppressor T cells, which we believe are crucial to the process of inhibiting MS”

One in 1,500 New Zealander’s will develop MS in their lifetime. The chances are higher for women and, coincidentally, the further away you live from the equator. The cause is not known, but the immune system attacking the myelin sheath covering of the nerves in the brain causes the clinical symptoms. The damage of the myelin results in the loss of signals passing clearly from the brain to the rest of the body.

Much research world-wide is underway to find ways to rebuild the myelin and fix the information pathways. However, our research the Malaghan Institute, in collaboration with the University of Auckland, is aimed at eliminating the destructive immune cells before they do the damage. We hope to ‘build’ a fence at the top of a cliff rather than waiting in an ambulance at the bottom.


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