News / 11 May 2018

Merson Group lab members
The Merson Group, from left to right: Kaveh Moradi, Jasmine Poh, Amali Cooray, Toby Merson, Yasuyuki Osanai and Lulu Xing

Over 25,000 Australians suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and with 10 new diagnoses each week and an ageing population, that number is on the rise. Unfortunately, given the relatively few sufferers in comparison to our total population, it’s no surprise that only 4 out of 10 Australians rank MS as a community health priority.

But this perception can be changed, and that’s what makes MS Research Australia’s Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign in May so valuable. One proud contributor is ARMI’s own Merson Group, who research potential methods to mitigate the debilitating symptoms of MS. By taking part in the campaign’s launch day event ‘Red Lab Coat Day(on May 1st), they’re aiming to raise funds for further research in the prevention, treatment and, ideally, a cure for MS.

“Raising funds for MS research and keeping the science going is our top priority,” commented Petricia Augustus, head of communications, marketing and operations at  MS Research Australia. “By bringing together scientists and the community, we can accelerate success and look forward to a time where prevention and, one day, a cure for MS will be a reality.”

As a part of Red Lab Coat Day, the Merson Group participated in Battle of the Labs, where scientists in Australia are encouraged to get in front of the camera, showcase their research and switch their traditionally white lab coats for themed red variants (as a cheeky reference to the ‘kiss’ part of the campaign’s title). As a happy coincidence, ARMI already uses red as their default lab coat colour. This gets researchers, such as the Merson Group, out into the community and in the public eye.

Led by Dr Tobias Merson, the Merson Group dreams big. Focusing on the cellular and molecular interactions between neurons and myelin-forming oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system; the Merson Group’s major goal is to develop strategies to promote myelin repair in MS. Myelin (the lipid-rich substance that surrounds the axon of nerve cells) forms the insulating layer around nerves, which is essential for the proper functioning of cells. For patients with MS, this layer is degraded and cannot be repaired.

“There is currently no cure for MS and current treatments only tackle the inflammatory component of the disease,” commented Tobias Merson. “Our research is focused on developing a new class of therapeutics that promote myelin regeneration, which is vital for restoring nerve cell function and preventing irreversible damage. If we can develop drugs to promote myelin repair, this will go a long way to improving the quality of life for patients with MS. We’re very excited to be part of the Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign and we look forward to doing it all again next year.”


If you’d like to learn more about Merson Group’s work or the Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign (or to donate), visit the following links:

Watch the video here

Tobias Merson click here

The Merson Group click here

MS Research Australia click here

Follow Toby on Twitter @saibotoz