Grants Awarded to Roehampton Biochemist to study how vitamin D could protect against MS

 Dr Robert Busch from the Department of Life Sciences has been awarded nearly £90,000 in funding to find out how vitamin D could protect against MS.

Posted: 22 March 2016

image for news story Grants Awarded to Roehampton Biochemist to study how vitamin D could protect against MS
Dr Robert Busch and Mr Nakul Shah in the cell tissue culture lab at Roehampton
There are more than 100,000 people living with MS in the UK, a condition when the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system due to a miscommunication between the cells. There is no known single cause, but there is research to show that a good supply of vitamin D from sunlight or our diet can lower the risk of developing MS.

Funded by the MS Society and the MS International Federation, Dr Busch’s two-year study with his postgraduate student, Mr Nakul Shah will investigate the influence that vitamin D has on the function of one particular genetic risk factor, called HLA-DR, which controls how cells in the immune system communicate with each other.

Dr Busch said “MS is such a devastating disease to the lives of the people affected and their families. This study will advance our understanding of how environmental and genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing MS and possibly to the clinical course of this illness. Clinical trials are underway to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation would help people with MS. It is vital that we understand how these factors interact.”

They will be working with a team of researchers including their co-investigator, Professor Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, Head of the Health Sciences Research Centre at Roehampton who will contribute neuroscience expertise, along with Dr Camilla Blain, a consultant neurologist at St George’s Hospital, London who specialises in MS, and with researchers at the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics.

Dr Sorrel Bickley, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said: “The link between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis is a crucial area of research. We’re really excited to be supporting a project that could increase our understanding of the complex mix of genetic and environmental factors involved in MS. Finding treatments that can slow, stop or reverse the worsening of disability is the number one research priority for the MS Society.”

The MS Society supports those living with the condition through practical help, campaigning for better treatment and care and by playing a leading role in research. The MS International Federation provides support for researchers from developing countries working in this field.

The Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton is dedicated to understanding and improving the living world through ground-breaking advances in scientific research.

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