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MSWA Bulletin Winter 2020

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RESEARCH RESEARCH ROUND

RESEARCH RESEARCH ROUND UP SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN, MSCN GENERAL MANAGER STRATEGIC SUPPORTS AND RESIDENTIAL OPTIONS FROM MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS NEWS TODAY Read more at: multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com Ability to ‘Create’ Astrocytes Supports Their Damaging Role in MS, Like Diseases, Patricia Inacio PhD. A new study shows an inflammatory environment can turn astrocytes, key supportive cells for neurons, into their killers, fostering the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like MS. In a first, researchers at the New York Stem Cell Foundation, created astrocytes derived from human stem cells (hIPSCs). They then placed these cells in an inflammatory environment and observed what happened. Following inflammatory stimulation, the astrocytes become reactive, dysfunctional, and toxic, triggering neuronal death — all of which opens ‘a window for the study of their role’ in neurodegenerative disorders. The group, and others, look forward ‘to using our new system to further explore the intricacies of astrocyte function in Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and other diseases’ in the hope it will ‘point us toward new treatment opportunities’ that might slow or prevent neurodegeneration. Australian Review Suggests ‘Gut Mucus May Help Ease MS, Other Neurological Diseases, Patricia Inacio PhD. An Australian review of 113 neurological, gut and microbiology studies, by researchers at the RMIT University in Melbourne, suggests tweaking the protective properties of the gut mucus, a layer lining the inside of the gut, to boost the proliferation of good bacteria potentially could halt the development of neurological disorders, like MS. The gut is lined with a mucus layer, key for a healthy gastrointestinal system, with properties adapted to each segment. In the small intestine it’s more porous, to facilitate nutrient absorption, while in the colon it becomes thicker, acting as a physical barrier against harmful bacteria but allowing the natural, beneficial community of microbes living in the gut – the gut microbiome – to thrive. The gut is innervated not only by the autonomic nervous system, but its own network of neuronal cells that regulate the functions of the gastrointestinal tract, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). Increasing evidence shows that changes in the gut and its microbiome have far-reaching implications and are commonly found in people with neurological disorders, such as autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and also MS. “Mucus is a critical protective layer that helps balance good and bad bacteria in your gut but you need just the right amount – not too little and not too much,” said Elisa Hill- Yardin in a press release. Hill-Yardin is a professor at School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University and the study’s senior author. “Researchers have previously shown that changes to intestinal mucus affect the balance of bacteria in the gut but until now, no one has made the connection between gut mucus and the brain,” Hill-Yardin said. She believes that “microbial engineering, and tweaking the gut mucus to boost good bacteria, have potential as therapeutic options for neurological disorders.” 8

HERE WE PROVIDE SOME SUMMARIES OF RESEARCH SOURCED FROM WEBSITES IN AUSTRALIA AND AROUND THE WORLD; WE HOPE IT’S OF INTEREST TO YOU. WE HAVE INCLUDED BOTH MS SPECIFIC AND OTHER NEUROLOGICAL RESEARCH UPDATES. READ MORE AT MSWA.ORG.AU/RESEARCHUPDATE FROM MS RESEARCH AUSTRALIA Read more at: msra.org.au Cutting Edge Technologies Help Discover Unknown Cells in the Human Body. Australian scientists have discovered nine subpopulations of a subtype of B cells (a type of immune cell) which differ in people with MS compared to those who don’t have MS. They also differed in people with active MS compared to those with inactive MS. The human body is made up of many different types of cells; the exact number of types is unknown. More and more subtypes of cells are being discovered as technology improves. MS Research Australia funded researchers have been using the latest technologies, which is providing unprecedented insights into changes in particular subtypes of immune cells that occur in people with MS. The group of Sydney researchers have been studying the immune system and examining and characterising the proteins on the surface of B cells and made some exciting discoveries. These findings highlight the exciting possibilities new technologies bring, and that measuring these B cells may help us understand when a person with MS might develop active forms of the disease and how various treatments might be working, including UV radiation therapy. The group has identified previously unknown subsets of cells which correlate with MS attacks on the central nervous system, suggesting that some of these subtypes of cells are potential targets for highly targeted therapies which could impact the progression of MS. Copper Delivery as a Potential Treatment for MS, Associate Professor Peter Crouch, University of Melbourne. One of the laboratory models used to study MS is based on treating mice with a compound that binds to copper in the body, which causes loss of myelin. However, no research has yet investigated exactly how the compound causes the myelin cells to die in mice and whether this provides clues as to how myelin is damaged in MS. Using techniques previously used for his research into MND, Associate Professor Crouch will determine whether MS-affected tissue in mice and in people with MS is functionally deficient in copper. The project receives funding support from The Trish MS Research Foundation. In this study, Associate Professor Crouch will examine both the levels of the copper dependent enzymes in the tissue and their actual copper dependent enzymatic activity. Differences between these two measurements can reveal functional copper deficiency despite no change in copper levels within the tissue. This project will be the first to assess the specific activity of multiple copper dependent enzymes in a laboratory model of MS and in post-mortem tissue from people with MS. It will therefore be the first to provide clear biochemical data to indicate whether there is a link between functional copper deficiency and loss of myelin in MS. Associate Professor Peter Crouch (right) & Dr James Hilton (left), University of Melbourne. 9