Ongoing Research Projects
MS Incidence and Natural History Study
The NZ MS incidence study began recruitment in 2012. The aim of the study was to prospectively identify all persons who were either diagnosed with MS or had a first demyelinating event (FDE) between June 1st 2012 and May 31st 2014. In addition all patients continue to be assessed at entry, and at six monthly intervals for five years to examine the effect of factors such as gender, ethnicity, latitude, smoking, maternal age, age at onset of symptoms, phenotype as well as use of disease modifying medications on disease activity and severity measured at entry, two and five years. The preliminary findings of the study have been presented at the joint American and European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Boston, USA, Spetember 2014. The complete results of study are expected to be published in late 2016.
PreVANZ Vit D study
This is a trial of Vit D supplementation in patients following their first episode of demyelination (first relapse) being conducted in collaboration with Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia (MSRA). This trial compares three different dosages of Vit D against a placebo and participants will take the medication for 48 weeks. We will then analyse whether the treatment delays the likelihood of further relapses and whether it prevents new areas of inflammation as seen on MRI. This is the first scientifically based study of the effects of Vit D on MS to have been done anywhere in the world.
Completed Research Projects
New Zealand National MS Prevalence Study
This study was conducted between 2006 and 2010 following a successful joint partnership grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand (Partnership Grant HRC MS 05 524). The major findings of the study were published in 2010 in the prestigious international “Multiple Sclerosis Journal”. In summary, the study showed that New Zealand has a high overall MS prevalence of 73.1 per 100,000 population. Prevalence within Maori was significantly lower (24.2 per 100,000 population) than in non-Maori population (81.6 per 100,000 population). The study confirmed a 3 fold increase in prevalence rate between the north and south of the country.
This project arose out of the NZ Prevalence Study in 2006 when approximately 2,000 participants in the prevalence study kindly agreed to participate in an international gene study. Each provided a saliva sample. The ANZgene project identified two previously unknown genes in MS and lead to a publication in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in MS study
The aim of this study was to identify MRI based prognostic markers for MS disease.