First Australian to receive new MS grant

Dr Steven Petratos (R) with Jay Young Lee (L)

Dr Steven Petratos (R) with Jay Young Lee (L)

A researcher is the first in Australia to receive a new grant for his work into stopping the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Monash University’s Dr Steven Petratos is the only Australian recipient of the International Progressive MS Alliance first round of grants. 

Dr Petratos’, Central Clinical School, is doing research into new therapies to stop progressive MS, a chronic condition that worsens over time disrupting the flow of information within the brain and body. Progressive MS takes away vision, mobility, cognition, and the ability to work. 

The new grants have been awarded to 22 researchers in nine countries who are finding solutions and treatments for the disease. 

Nerve fiber damage is thought to underlie progressive disability in MS. Dr Petratos and his team have been working to understand how the fibres are damaged during MS, leading to permanent disability. 

The team has found evidence that a specific protein, when present in an abnormal form, may play a role in nerve cell damage. They are currently trialling a stem cell-based strategy to deliver a protective drug to limit the damage occurring in the brain of individuals with progressive MS.

“We have identified a damaged protein in nerve fibres that we can now target therapeutically to stop progressive MS from worsening, and enhance the quality of life of all individuals living with this devastating disease,” Dr Petratos said.

“The grant will enable us to investigate the strategy further toward pre-clinical trials.” 

Dr Petratos said without the generous support of the alliance, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of the USA, and Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia, the team would not have been able to further the work towards a potential therapy for the disease. 

“I am very humbled to receive this prestigious award and wish to highlight all of the great work that MS patient advocates and their families perform to make certain that medical research will eventually provide a life without MS,” he said. 

The alliance is an international initiative that is connecting resources and experts around the world to find answers and develop solutions to end progressive MS. More than 190 research proposals from 22 countries were received in the alliance’s first round of awards.