Postgraduate Scholarship – $67,000 over 2017-2018 funded by the Trish Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation
Dr Joshua Barton, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, NSW
Associate Professor Michael Barnett, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, NSW
The current methods available to clinicians and researchers to measure the progression of disease and disability in people with MS are relatively insensitive and must be measured over relatively long periods of time. However, people with early MS often have changes to their brains which do not result in symptoms, so called ‘sub-clinical changes’ which can affect disability later in the disease. Clinical trials for medications that aim to slow or halt disability progression are also hampered by this lack of sensitive measures for progression.
Dr Barton, a clinician currently receiving advanced training in neurology, will undertake a postgraduate scholarship to develop a tablet based tool that will track sub-clinical changes in real-time.
The tests, that can be easily administered in the clinic, or for the first time, in a person’s home, will measure aspects of the visual system – the eyes and the parts of the brain that process vision. The tablet based testing will be recorded over time and compared with more traditional measures of relapse activity and disability, measurements taken by advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other markers of disturbance to the visual pathway.
Dr Barton will also determine whether these visual measurements also show improvement in people who improve clinically after commencing highly effective disease modifying therapy for their MS. It is expected this research will yield a novel tool able to be used in clinical trials and in the clinic to monitor disease progression and the effectiveness of therapies for MS in the real world setting.