The University of Queensland will glow red for the month of May to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease that researchers at the university are working to combat.
Earlier this month, the University of Queensland switched on the red floodlights on the northern side of the Forgan Smith Building in the middle of the Great Court, and will leave them on between 6pm and 11pm every night for the duration of MS Awareness Month, to help raise awareness of the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic neurological condition amongst young Australian adults today — a disease that attacks a person’s brain and spinal cord causing irreparable damage.
More than 21,000 Australians are living with it and, while there is no known cure, researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and the UQ Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) are working to find treatments and learn more.
Dr. Judith Greer, an expert in MS at UQCCR, said the centre was working on understanding more about several aspects of MS.
“This includes studying genes that appear to be related to development of chronic progressive MS, trying to understand why pregnancy has both short and long-term beneficial effects for women with MS and looking at the role of EBV (the virus that causes glandular fever) in MS,” said Dr Greer.
“We are also working on developing specific therapeutic agents that will be targeted for people with MS based on the immune response genes they carry and the parts of their brain and spinal cord that are damaged by their MS.”
“The MS Society provides much of the funding for our research, and has been critical for the advancement of MS research in Australia.”
Professor Perry Bartlett, Director of the Queensland Brain Institute, says researchers at QBI are exploring ways to activate the production of new oligodendrocytes – the cells that make myelin – in order to be able to regenerate and repair the damage caused by MS.
MS is prevalent in women aged between 20 and 40 three times more than men, and incidence is increasing.
UQ Property and Facilities Asset Services Manager Kevin O’Sullivan said that as a key part of the Brisbane community,UQ was compelled to support citywide initiatives. In 2008, UQ lit the building blue to raise awareness of diabetes.
“There are 10 major sites taking part this year, including the Brisbane City Hall and King George Square, and it made sense that we include the campus as part of the community, to raise awareness among staff, students and visitors.”
As part of the MS Society’s Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign, Australians are urged to support current Australian research being conducted for improving treatment, prevention and ultimately finding a cure for MS.
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