A call to focus: MS Australia advocates for enhanced neurological research funding

By Our Reporter
Representational Photo by Getty Images. Licensed under the Unsplash+ License

The Australian Government’s recent commitment to enhance health and medical research has been met with both applause and appeals for a sharper focus on neurological research. This call to action comes from MS Australia, the nation’s primary non-profit organisation dedicated to combating multiple sclerosis (MS).

While the announcement of the ‘Health Research for a Future Made in Australia’ package signifies a promising stride towards a more strategic and coordinated approach to research funding, MS Australia has voiced concerns over the inadequacy of resources being allocated specifically to neurological conditions. According to MS Australia CEO, Rohan Greenland, the establishment of a dedicated Neurological Research Mission under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) could address this shortfall effectively.

Greenland expressed satisfaction over the Government’s pledge to inaugurate new missions through the MRFF, and reiterated MS Australia’s demand for the creation of a mission devoted to neurological research. The need for such focused research is underscored by the considerable number of Australians living with progressive neurological or neuromuscular conditions—an issue imposing an annual cost of over $36 billion on the Australian economy.

Adding his voice, MS Australia President Associate Professor Des Graham highlighted the critical need for neurological conditions to be considered a primary national priority. “The establishment of an MRFF Neurological Mission would bring together top researchers, health professionals, and various stakeholders to tackle the significant health challenges posed by neurological conditions,” stated Graham.

The Government also announced last week funding allocations through the MRFF for CureMOG, a clinical trial focused on MOGAD—a disorder related to MS. This trial is spearheaded by Associate Professor Sudarshini Ramanathan from The University of Sydney, with MS Australia being a key partner. Additionally, Dr Izanne Roos from The University of Melbourne was awarded an NHMRC Investigator Grant to explore high-efficacy therapies in MS, further supported by her ongoing MS Australia fellowship.

These initiatives are part of broader efforts to combat MS and its associated conditions. Last year, the Government injected $18 million into research on the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), recognized as a significant risk factor for MS. This funding is part of nearly $10 million secured by MS Australia in collaboration with Australian research teams through several successful government funding bids.

The collected funds are earmarked for utilising extensive biological samples and clinical data accumulated over many years within MS Australia’s National Collaborative Research Platforms. Greenland lauded the substantial government investment into EBV research and reiterated MS Australia’s commitment to maximising this investment to accelerate research that will enhance outcomes for the MS community.

MS remains a prevalent chronic neurological disease, primarily affecting young adults and significantly more women than men in Australia. Despite ongoing research, a cure for MS has not yet been found, and the condition continues to challenge those affected with symptoms that can severely impact daily functioning and quality of life.

MS Australia stands as a beacon of hope and support, driving research efforts, advocating for sustained policy change, and providing invaluable resources to those affected by MS. As it pushes for more targeted government action and funding, MS Australia also ensures the integration of global research efforts and community support to forge pathways towards significant breakthroughs in MS treatment and care.

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