Age as a Risk Factor for Multiple Sclerosis Progression: Examining Immune Cell - Microbiome Interactions and Multiple Sclerosis
Year Awarded: 2019
Term: 3 years
Funding Amount: $337,500
Affiliation(s): University of Toronto
Researcher(s): Dr. Jennifer Gommerman
Hot Topics: Progressive MS
Impact Goal(s): Advance Treatment and Care
Summary: This study is examining the molecular and cellular factors that drive multiple sclerosis (MS) progression. Using a novel animal model and human samples, this research aims to understand the effect of both age and microbes in the gut on MS progression.
The molecular basis for why patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) develop secondary progressive MS (SPMS) remains a mystery. However, it has been established that MS progression is highly dependent on age. Recent evidence indicates that there is widespread activation of the brain immune cells called microglia in people with secondary progressive MS. Even though microglia cells are distant from the gut, these cells appear to respond to changes in the gut environment, suggesting that disturbances in the gut microbes (also termed microbiota) may play a role in promoting microglial hyper-activation during progressive MS. This research will test this hypothesis by using a novel animal model that is sensitive to age and microbes, whilst integrating human samples.
Potential impact: A greater understanding of risk factors of MS progression is important to halting and changing disease trajectory. This work has the potential to address age as a risk factor for progression and to identify microbes that could provide protection against progression, which may yield new therapeutic approaches.
Project Status: In progress