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Grant to investigate the eye as a monitor of disease activity and repair in multiple sclerosis


CERA Deputy Director and Principal Investigator Dr Peter van Wijngaarden, has been awarded an Incubator Grant from MS Research Australia to further his research on the eye as a monitor of disease activity and repair in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden

The visual pathway in the brain is often affected in MS and measuring damage via the visual system is attractive. The ability to correlate the loss of visual function, measured with routine eye tests, with non-invasive markers of structural change is a major advantage of studies of the visual system.

“I am delighted to receive the support of MS Research Australia to conduct this important work. The project is an extension of research that I undertook during my post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge and draws on local expertise in models of optic nerve injury and recovery,” said Dr Wijngaarden.

“By its very nature, incubator funding allows us to embark on innovative research that might not attract funding under conventional funding schemes. The work will provide insights into the mechanisms of injury and repair in MS and may serve as a useful model in which to test therapies that aim to enhance regeneration of the central nervous system, with the aim of improving outcomes for people with this disease,” he said.

Dr van Wijngaarden will use his funding to develop a laboratory model of MS that is based on damage to the optic nerve and allow researchers to test new therapies that aim to repair damaged myelin in MS and determine if they are effective.

MS Research Australia CEO, Matthew Miles said, “MS Research Australia is very pleased to be supporting this important research. Therapies to promote myelin repair are a critical priority for people with MS, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this important new line of research.”

“The funding will allow me to further develop collaborations with Dr Tobias Merson, from Monash University, and Associate Professor Bang Bui, from the Department of Optometry at the University of Melbourne,” said Dr van Wijngaarden.