NUI Galway lecturer leads international MS research project

Monday, 16 July 2007

A major international research project into the possible causes of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is being led by NUI Galway lecturer Dr. Thomas Barry, at the Department of Microbiology.

The joint molecular and clinical exploration of mycoplasmas and other bacteria that may play key roles in triggering MS is being funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society New York.

Neurology Professor Edward Hogan of NUI Galway and the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Augusta, Georgia, USA will also be involved in the research which will involve the application of molecular probes to detect traces of mycoplasma DNA in human MS tissue samples.

Initial studies of such DNA in the brain, cerebrospinal fluid and blood of MS patients are now being followed by investigating the possibility that mycoplasma infection in humans causes an auto-immune or allergic reaction producing MS inflammatory lesions in brain and spinal cord. Mycoplasmas may incite reactions causing damage to the myelin that is the insulating sheath of nerve fibers in the nervous system.

The work aims to clarify the role of infection in the occurrence of MS that is a serious and costly disease, affecting the emotional, social and financial needs of many Irish families. The research holds the potential to discover the causes of MS, thereby enabling a more specific and effective treatment to be developed than those currently in use.

ENDS

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