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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Autumn 2021

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Get to know your new President | Resilience: I get knocked down, but I get up again | MSWA’s m contribution to research | 36 years of Bulletin

RESEARCH RESEARCH ROUND

RESEARCH RESEARCH ROUND UP SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN, MSCN GENERAL MANAGER STRATEGIC SUPPORTS AND RESIDENTIAL OPTIONS FROM THE MS SOCIETY UK Read more at: msra.org.au New Links Between B Cells and EBV Infections in Women with MS WA researchers investigated B cells, antibodies, and signs of EBV infection (glandular fever virus) in the blood. They compared people with MS experiencing a relapse, and people with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) before an MS diagnosis, to people without MS. The research revealed for the first time, that levels of CD32b, a receptor molecule on the surface of B cells, are lower on particular types of B cells in people with MS and CIS when compared to healthy controls, but only in women. Thus, it is possible that B cells in women with MS are less able to switch off excessive responses, and/or less able to switch off autoimmune responses. They also found this phenomenon in women with MS was associated with higher levels of a special B cell activating factor in the blood, with tests suggesting that the previously inactive EBV in the body was reactivated. This was particularly evident in those with CIS. Women are almost three times more likely to develop MS than men. The CD32b molecule prevents autoimmune disease in laboratory models. The discovery that the CD32b molecule is reduced in women who have CIS and MS opens new avenues to understanding the autoimmune process in MS more generally. Discovering unique differences in the immune system of women with MS may also help us to understand why women are more susceptible to developing MS. As EBV is an important risk factor for MS and possibly a driver of the MS disease process, further work is also warranted to understand how the CD32b molecule is related to the control of EBV infection in MS, particularly early in the disease process. MS Heat and Fatigue: Does it Come Down to Sweating? Heat fatigue is a very common symptom of MS, which causes feelings of exhaustion and worsening of other symptoms. Australian researchers try and pin down the causes of heat fatigue in people with MS. Researchers explore whether people with MS have any changes in their ability to sweat and whether this influences their heat fatigue. Previous observations suggested that people with MS are less able to regulate their temperature due to an impaired sweating capacity, ie, delayed or reduced sweating. This makes their body temperature rise more quickly, possibly due to a change in sensitivity of the damaged neurons that detect heat. The current study, led by Dr Ollie Jay from the University of Sydney, aimed to demonstrate whether this impaired sweating response during exercise was enough to raise the core temperature of people with MS. The study also investigated if it resulted in a reduced capacity of people with MS to perform exercise, compared to those without MS. 10

HERE WE PROVIDE SOME SUMMARIES OF RESEARCH SOURCED FROM WEBSITES IN AUSTRALIA AND AROUND THE WORLD; WE HOPE IT’S OF INTEREST TO YOU. IN THIS EDITION WE HAVE INCLUDED MS, STROKE, MND AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE RESEARCH UPDATES. READ MORE AT MSWA.ORG.AU/RESEARCHUPDATE The researchers found the ability of people with MS to complete exercise in either warm (30°C) or hot (35°C) environments was compromised, compared to those without MS. The onset of sweating in people with MS was delayed in both environments, however, reductions were only observed on the forearm, and not the upper back. Nevertheless, similar rises in rectal temperatures were observed between the MS and non-MS group throughout 60 minutes of exercise in both the warm and hot environments. As the heat affected non-MS people too, this suggests that any impairments in regulating body temperature in people with MS are not sufficient alone to accelerate body heating during exercise. Given the findings, it’s suggested that future research should focus on practical and economical cooling strategies to overcome heatrelated fatigue and the onset of MS symptoms during physical activity and/or heat exposure in warm and hot environments. FROM SHAKE IT UP AUSTRALIA Read more at: shakeitup.org.au Targeting gut bacteria to treat Parkinson’s symptoms A clinical trial looking at constipation and gut dysfunction is now under way at the University of Queensland. The trial will determine if a targeted treatment can restore specific beneficial gut bacteria that are known to be substantially reduced in people with Parkinson’s. The latest scientific thinking suggests a strong link between gut bacteria and Parkinson’s – particularly around the harmful role that altered gut bacteria and their metabolic products may play in contributing to the disease process. A significant issue for people with Parkinson’s is a slowed digestive tract movement, leading to constipation – adding to the challenge of having the disease, and the negative impact on a person’s quality of life. The Queensland Drug Repurposing Initiative received .5 million in Advance Queensland funding to build infrastructure and research capacity to accelerate clinical trials for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, using approaches such as drug repurposing. “Our first clinical trial will use a proprietary bacterial substrate developed by Anagenix Ltd, which we believe can restore specific populations of beneficial bacteria that are progressively reduced in people Parkinson’s as the disease progresses. “While the focus of this trial will be on constipation and gut function, the research we perform on the patient samples from this study, will provide us with valuable insights into the potential of this approach to reduce inflammation and other pathological processes associated with Parkinson’s disease progression. This will tell us if similar treatment strategies targeting gut bacteria may have the potential to slow or halt the progression of Parkinson’s, which is the ultimate goal of our research program” Dr Richard Gordon, QDRI Research Lead, said. FROM THE STROKE FOUNDATION Read more at: strokefoundation.org.au Australia destined for world’s first stroke air ambulance Australia is set to save lives and lead the way internationally with the latest innovation in stroke treatment and care – a stroke air ambulance. The Stroke Foundation will be a primary partner in The Stroke Golden Hour research project awarded million under Stage Two of the Frontier Health and Medical Research Initiative. The Stroke Golden Hour project is developing lightweight portable brain scanners, meaning they can be put into ambulances on the roads and in the air. This will allow rapid diagnosis and treatment to those who have a stroke, saving lives and reducing disability. Australians in regional and rural areas have been denied the highquality stroke treatment provided to their metropolitan counterparts. This announcement is an exciting step forward in ending that. Australia’s broad geography will no longer be a barrier to time-critical stroke treatment. More than 27,000 Australians will experience a first time stroke this year. Rural and regional Australians are 17 percent more likely to have a stroke and are more likely to have a poorer outcome due to limited access to stroke specialists, treatments, and care. 11