A novel humanized mouse model for multiple sclerosis

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Associate Professor Judith Greerj.greer@uq.edu.au

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic neurological disease affecting young adults in Australia. The standard animal model used in basic MS research is called the EAE model. EAE mimics some of the aspects of the disease process in humans (i.e. the mice experience an autoimmune attack on the myelin coating of their nerves and subsequently develop weakness and paralysis). Many drugs have been designed that can cure EAE; however, only a small number of them have shown any clinical benefits when they enter clinical trials for MS. Some of the drugs that prevent EAE have even been found to make MS worse. Therefore, there is an unmet need for improved pre-clinical animal models that can really help to facilitate the translation of basic research to the clinic.

The overarching goal of this project will be to validate a humanized mouse model as a novel translational tool for research in MS. Our lab has bred a unique human MHC class II-expressing strain of mice that does not have any immune system of its own, but which can grow a human immune system instead when stem cells found in the blood of humans are injected into newborn mice. These mice have the potential to be very useful in testing aspects of MS that cannot successfully be tested in standard animal models, and in the development of personalised-medicine approaches to treatment in the future. Specific project aims could include assessment of the pathogenicity of T cells and antibodies from MS patients, testing of a novel experimental drug that our lab has developed, investigating whether non-specific immune activation (e.g. following infection or vaccination) is sufficient to reveal dormant autoimmunity in the central nervous system, and testing the effects of gene mutations of small effect on a background of other risk genes.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of immunology, histology, and working with small laboratory animals would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of immunology and the potential for scholastic success.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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