Professor Anne La Flamme

Scope 67: Award-winning research by multiple sclerosis team

24 October 2018

Research into a type of white blood cell by the Malaghan Institute’s multiple sclerosis team has received international recognition by the journal Immunology & Cell Biology.

The team’s paper, ‘Glatiramer acetate treatment normalised the monocyte activation profile in MS patients to that of healthy control’ was named runner up publication of the year by the journal’s editorial board.

“For this paper, we looked at monocytes – a type of white blood cell that affects MS – in the blood of MS patients,” said MS team leader Professor Anne La Flamme. “What was really interesting was comparing what monocytes look like in MS patients versus healthy subjects – and what happens when you treat MS patients with glatiramer acetate, a common therapy drug for relapsing- remitting MS.

“What we found was that these monocytes look completely different. But, when MS patients are treated with glatiramer acetate, it appears to alter monocyte activation. When you look at them again, these monocytes look like those from a healthy subject, not an MS patient.”

“No one knows quite how this drug works in MS – but this research provides evidence that this monocyte alteration is one of the ways glatiramer acetate is modifying the immune system in a positive way.”