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Demyelinating Diseases Research

Demyelinating Diseases Research, led by Clinical Professor Allan Kermode, is dedicated to investigating the causes of multiple sclerosis (MS) and improving the treatment and management of those suffering from MS and related diseases.

Research Focus

The research team is involved in a number of research projects to investigate the clinical profile of different subgroups of patients with demyelinating disease in Western Australia, including relapsing-remitting and primary progressive MS, optico-spinal forms (OSMS), neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and transverse myelitis, and the influence of HLA alleles and haplotypes on disease susceptibility and clinical and laboratory characteristics.

The team is working in collaboration with Professor F Christiansen and the Department of Clinical Immunology at the Royal Perth Hospital. New serological techniques for detecting antibodies to aquaporin-4 have been developed in collaboration with Professor P Hollingsworth and the Department of Clinical Immunology at the QEII Medical Centre and are being evaluated in the large cohort of patients in the Perth Demyelinating Diseases Database (PDDD) to determine what role this antibody has in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Collaboration with Professor S Mallal at the Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Murdoch University aims to investigate genetic epistasis and the interaction of viral infections in MS.

In addition, the Group has established important international collaborations with centres in Guangzhou at Sun Yat Sen University (Professor Wei Qiu) and with Kyushu University in Japan (Professor J-I Kira), and with the IMSGC, ANZGene, MSBase and the Progressive MS Alliance.

New forms of pharmacotherapy for patients with demyelinating disorders are being investigated and the Group is participating in international multi-centre therapeutic trials of new agents for the treatment of MS.




  • Narrowband UVB Phototherapy for Clinically Isolated Syndrome: A Trial to Deliver the Benefits of Vitamin D and Other UVB-Induced Molecules. Hart PH, Lucas RM, Booth DR, Carroll WM, Nolan D, Cole JM, Jones AP, Kermode AG. Frontiers in Immunology. 2017 Jan 24;8:3. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00003.
  • Azathioprine therapy in a case of pediatric multiple sclerosis that was seropositive for MOG-IgG. Zhou Y, Huang Q, Lu T, Sun X, Fang L, Lu Z, Hu X, Kermode A, Qiu W. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 2017 Jan 19. pii: S0967-5868(16)30938-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2016.12.022.
  • The autoimmune risk gene ZMIZ1 is a vitamin D responsive marker of a molecular phenotype of multiple sclerosis. Fewings NL, Gatt PN, McKay FC, Parnell GP, Schibeci SD, Edwards J, Basuki MA, Goldinger A, Fabis-Pedrini MJ, Kermode AG, Manrique CP, McCauley JL, Nickles D, Baranzini SE, Burke T, Vucic S, Stewart GJ, Booth DR. Journal of Autoimmunity. 2017 Jan 4. pii: S0896-8411(16)30284-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2016.12.006.
  • Pregnancy in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder: A multicenter study from South China. Huang Y, Wang Y, Zhou Y, Huang Q, Sun X, Chen C, Fang L, Long Y, Yang H, Wang H, Li C, Lu Z, Hu X, Kermode AG, Qiu W. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 2017 Jan 15;372:152-156. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2016.11.054.
  • Acute reversible seronegative cerebellar ataxia in a young woman with ovarian teratoma. Yau WY, Fabis-Pedrini MJ, Kermode AG. J Neurol Sci. 2016 Oct 15;369:227-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2016.08.033. Epub 2016 Aug 16
  • Common and low frequency variants in MERTK are independently associated with multiple sclerosis susceptibility with discordant association dependent upon HLA-DRB1*1501 status. Binder MD, Fox AD, Merlo D, Johnson LJ, Giuffrida L, Calvert SE, Akkermann R, Ma GZ; *ANZgene., Perera AA, Gresle MM, Laverick L, Foo G, Fabis-Pedrini MJ, Spelman T, Jordan MA, Baxter AG, Foote S, Butzkueven H, Kilpatrick TJ, Field J. PLoS Genet. 2016 Mar 18;12(3):e1005853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005853 (Kermode AG & Carroll WM are members of ANZgene Consortium)
  • Response to Interferon Beta Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis patients – A Genomewide Association Study. Mahurkar S, Moldovan M, Suppiah V, Sorosina M, Clarelli F, Liberatore G, Malhotra S, Montalban X, Antigüedad A, Krupa M, Jokubaitis VG, McKay FC, Gatt PN, Fabis-Pedrini MJ, Martinelli V, Comi G, Lechner-Scott J, Kermode AG, Slee M, Taylor BV, Vandenbroeck K, Comabella M, Boneschi FM; Australian and New Zealand Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium (ANZgene)., King C. Pharmacogenomics J. 2016 Mar 22. doi: 10.1038/tpj.2016.20.
  • The low EOMES/TBX21 molecular phenotype in multiple sclerosis reflects CD56+ cell dysregulation and is affected by immunomodulatory therapies. McKay FC, Gatt PN, Fewings N, Parnell GP, Schibeci SD, Basuki MAI, Powell J, Fabis-Pedrini MJ, Kermode AG, Burke T, Vucic S, Stewart GJ, Booth DR. Clin Immunol. 2016 Feb;163:96-107. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2015.12.015
  • Asymptomatic progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy during natalizumab therapy with treatment. Fabis-Pedrini MJ, Xu W, Burton J, Carroll WM, Kermode AG. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Mar;25:145-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2015.08.027
  • Identifying Patient-Specific Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen-1 Genetic Variation and Potential Autoreactive Targets Relevant to Multiple Sclerosis Pathogenesis. Tschochner M, Leary S, Cooper D, Strautins K, Chopra A, Clark H, Choo L, Dunn D, James I, Carroll WM, Kermode AG, Nolan D. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 5;11(2):e0147567. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147567
  • Rapid exacerbation of neuromyelitis optica after rituximab treatment. Dai Y, Lu T, Wang Y, Fang L, Li R, Kermode AG, Qiu W. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Apr;26:168-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2015.08.033
  • Genetic loci for Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen-1 are associated with risk of multiple sclerosis. Zhou Y, Zhu G, Charlesworth JC, Simpson S Jr, Rubicz R, Göring HH, Patsopoulos NA, Laverty C, Wu F, Henders A, Ellis JJ, van der Mei I, Montgomery GW, Blangero J, Curran JE, Johnson MP, Martin NG, Nyholt DR, Taylor BV; ANZgene consortium (Kermode AG & Carroll WM are members of ANZgene Consortium) Mult Scler. 2016 Nov;22(13):1655-1664
  • Tanaka, M., Kinoshita, M., Foley, J.F., Tanaka, K., Kira, J. & Carroll, W.M. (2015). Body weight-based natalizumab treatment in adult patients with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology 262 (3), pp. 781-782.
  • Pedrini, M.J.F., Seewann, A., Bennett, K.A., Wood, A.J.T., James, I., Burton, J., Marshall, B.J., Carroll, W.M. & Kermode, A.G. (2015) Helicobacter pylori infection as a protective factor against multiple sclerosis risk in females, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 86 (6), pp. 603-607.
  • Qiu, W., Kermode, A.G., Li, R., Dai, Y., Wang, Y., Wang, J., Zhong, X., Li, C., Lu, Z. & Hu, X. 2015 Azathioprine plus corticosteroid treatment in Chinese patients with neuromyelitis optica, Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 22 (7), pp. 1178-1182.
  • Pedrini, M.J.F., Seewann, A., Bennett, K.A., Wood, A.J.T., James, I., Burton, J., Marshall, B.J., Carroll, W.M., & Kermode, A.G. (2015) Helicobacter pylori infection as a protective factor against multiple sclerosis risk in females Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 86 (6), pp. 603-607
  • An Goris, Ine Pauwels, Marte W. Gustavsen, Brechtje Van Son, Kelly Hilven, Steffan D. Bos, Elisabeth Gulowsen Celius, Pål Berg-Hansen, Jan Aarseth, Kjell-Morten Myhr, Sandra D’Alfonso, Nadia Barizzone, Maurizio A. Leone, Filippo Martinelli Boneschi, Melissa Sorosina, Giuseppe Liberatore, Ingrid Kockum, Tomas Olsson, Jan Hillert, Lars Alfredsson, Sahl Khalid Bedri, Bernhard Hemmer, Dorothea Buck, Achim Berthele, Benjamin Knier, Viola Biberacher, Vincent van Pesch, Christian Sindic, Annette Bang Oturai, Helle Bach Søndergaard, Finn Sellebjerg, Poul Erik Jensen, Manuel Comabella, Xavier Montalban, Jennifer Pérez-Boza, Sunny Malhotra, Jeanette Lechner-Scott, Simon Broadley, Mark Slee, Bruce Taylor, Allan G. Kermode, Pierre-Antoine Gourraud, International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, Stephen J. Sawcer, Bettina K. Andreassen, Bénédicte Dubois, Hanne F. Harbo. Genetic variants are major determinants of cerebrospinal fluid antibody levels in multiple sclerosis. Brain. 2015. Mar;138 (Pt 3):632-43. doi: 10.1093/brain/awu405. Epub 2015 Jan 22. PMID: 25616667.
  • Broadley SA, Barnett MH, Boggild M, Brew BJ, Butzkueven H, Heard R, Hodgkinson S, Kermode AG, Lechner-Scott J, Macdonell R, Marriott M, Mason DF, Parratt J, Reddel S, Shaw C, Slee M, Spies J, Taylor BV, Carroll WM, Kilpatrick TJ, King J, McCombe P, Pollard JD, Willoughby E. A new era in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. 2015. MJA, in press.
  • Zhu X, Dian H, Hao W, Qingsong W, Yifan Z, Yingwu Z, Yuan L, Gang C, Krantic S, Kermode AG. Association between the single nucleotide polymorphism and the level of aquaporin-4 protein expression in Han and Minority Chinese with inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. 2015. Molecular Neurobiology DOI: 10.1007/s12035-015-9171-9.
  • Pedrini MJF, Xu W, Burton J, Carroll WM, Kermode AG. 2015. Asymptomatic progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy during natalizumab therapy with treatment. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.


Prof Steve Wilton, C/Prof Allan Kermode, Dr Rakesh Veedu, Prof Sue Fletcher and Dr May Thandar Aung-Htut received $50,000 from MS Research Australia for “Blocking genes to treat MS”.

Dr Marzena Pedrini has received a MSWA Postdoctoral Fellowship through UWA for 2 years which includes projects; “Exploring the mechanisms of MS pathogenies” and the HSCT (stem cell) register.

A/Prof Michelle Byrnes, C/Prof Allan Kermode & Dr Jason Burton have been funded by MSWA for their project: “Enhancing the Cognitive Functioning of Adults with Multiple Sclerosis: Integrated Cognitive and Psychosocial Therapy”.