2022 ABN Fellowship
High-Throughput Single Cell Multi-omic Analysis of Multiple Sclerosis Patient Blood to Identify Causal Immune Cell Subsets
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the brain and spinal cord resulting in neurological disability. The immune system is made up of cells that play an important role in fighting infection and cancer. Exactly how a healthy immune system goes wrong and causes MS is not known.
Currently, the most effective treatments for MS work by broadly suppressing immune cells to prevent this attack. However, these treatments can lead to potentially serious side effects from a weakened immune system and are also unable to completely cure the disease. Most patients will therefore eventually become permanently disabled.
This innovative study will examine the immune system of MS patients at a high level of detail with new cutting-edge technologies that can analyse the diverse array of immune cells on an individual level. Our aim is to identify and disentangle those cells that are causing the disease from those that are needed to maintain a healthy immune system and may also be protective against the disease.
Our findings aim to promote and guide drug development to specifically target these causal cells while sparing the healthy cells, which should be more effective and have fewer side effects. This would allow the most effective treatments to be safely given early after diagnosis in all patients, before they develop irreversible disability.
We hope to provide key insights into immune dysfunction in MS to greatly speed up the discovery of improved treatments for patients within the next decade.