On November 7, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) and Duke University’s MURDOCK Study joined together to announce the launch of Discovery MS, a new multiple sclerosis (MS) research initiative that aims to promote fuller, more active lives for people with MS by advancing the understanding of the origins of MS and improving diagnosis, prediction of disease progression, and assessment of treatment efficacy.
MS is an inflammatory, autoimmune disease that affects the ability of the brain and spinal cord nerve cells to communicate, resulting in physical and cognitive disability for 2.5 million people worldwide. There is limited understanding about the causes of the disease and no cure.
Discovery MS is housed at DHMRI and is a fully integrated research program that taps the expertise and advanced analytical capabilities of the institute. Simon Gregory, PhD, is the Discovery MS principal investigator and the director of the DHMRI Genomics Laboratory. Since joining DHMRI in 2012, Gregory worked with the DHMRI Genomics scientists to generate gene expression and genotype profiles of 976 Duke University MS Study participants and matched controls.
Gregory has also partnered with DHMRI’s Analytical Sciences Laboratory to perform comprehensive metabolomics on serum and urine samples from the MS study participants to search for novel MS-specific biomarkers. DHMRI’s In Vitro Sciences laboratory has isolated exosomes from serum samples to study the role of exosomal miRNA in MS pathogenesis, and the DHMRI’s Bioinformatic Core performed bioinformatic analyses on RNA sequenced from MS patients’ cerebral spinal fluid. DHMRI’s support of Gregory’s MS research has contributed to new discoveries such as a promising metabolic signature for MS and new insight into immune functionality in MS patients.
“Through Discovery MS and the scientific expertise of organizations like DHMRI,” Gregory said, “we are looking at new biomarkers of the disease, never-before-studied molecular mechanisms of disease function in model organisms, and novel drugs that may regulate the disease through modulating the immune system and promote remyelination.”
Gregory also serves as principal investigator for the MURDOCK Primary Progressive MS Study and co-directs the Duke University Program in Genetics and Genomics and the Duke Cancer Institute Program in Cancer Genetics and Genomics.
Discovery MS is made possible by the charitable contributions of Herman Stone and the J. Cox Family Foundation and is actively raising funds to endow the research program.
Learn more about Discovery MS.