15 May 2014

Antipsychotics as Treatment for MS

From Our Changing World, 9:20 pm on 15 May 2014

Victoria University immunologist Laura Green

Victoria University immunologist Laura Green in the lab.

Just as Hurricanes second five-eighth Tim Bateman is leaving New Zealand to seek better treatment for his wife, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a young researcher has been awarded the Zonta Science Award for her work in developing new treatments for the debilitating neurological condition.

Laura Green, an immunologist at Victoria University, won the award for her exploration of commonly used antipsychotic drugs in the treatment of the progressive form of MS, which is marked by a progression of disability from the onset, without plateaus or remissions.

Multiple Sclerosis affects nerve cells. The body's own immune cells begin to destroy a protective covering called the myelin sheath, which allows an electric signal to travel quickly along a nerve fibre. The term multiple sclerosis refers to multiple areas of scarring (sclerosis) scattered throughout the brain and spinal cord. These scars are the result of healing patches of inflammation, which is the main cause of damage to the insulating myelin sheath or the nerve fibres themselves.

Laura will use her prize money to travel to Switzerland to work with Britta Engelhardt, an eminent researcher who has developed a new imaging technique that can visualise individual immune cells trying to gain entry to the central nervous system.

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