As Australian women paint their lips red for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week’s Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign, researchers at Murdoch University and the Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute are unraveling the mysteries of the ‘kissing disease’ that is thought to increase the risk of contracting MS.
The kissing disease – also known as glandular fever – is one of several factors believed to increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, particularly in females who contract it for the first time in their teens. Genes and low exposure to sunlight are thought to also play a part.
Now the research team, led by Murdoch University Associate Professor David Nolan and funded by the McCusker Charitable Foundation, is working to learn more about how these factors influence the development of the disease.
Assoc Professor Nolan said: "We will be working closely with our collaborators, including Professors Frank Mastaglia, Allan Kermode and William Carroll, who provide specialist medical care for hundreds of women and men affected by MS in Western Australia. Together, we will be able to examine interactions between infections, genetic and environmental risk factors, all of which appear to be important in the disease process.
"Our sincere hope is that this research will lead to new diagnostics for people at risk of developing MS, and better therapies for those with active disease."
Assoc Prof Nolan urged people to support the annual MS Awareness Week, which runs until June 5.
“MS, a disease of the central nervous system, affects 30 in every 100,000 people in Western Australia – many of them young adults – and has a significant impact on sufferers’ quality of life,” he said.
“Thanks to the generous donation from the McCusker Foundation we are able to carry out this groundbreaking research here in Perth but any fundraising that supports work to learn more about this disease is welcomed.”
Go to the Kiss Goodbye to MS website to donate or find out more.