February 16, 2022
Researchers use diet to fight multiple sclerosis
‘Tools to choose the right diet to manage MS'
University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers tackling the importance of diet in managing multiple sclerosis (MS) have been awarded MS Australia grants totalling more than $400,000.
The bulk of the funding, $390,000 over three years, will fund a Senior Fellowship to Associate Professor Yasmine Probst, from the School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI).
Professor Probst, who lives with MS says she wants to develop evidence-based nutrition resources to share with health professionals, as well as people diagnosed with MS.
“My vision is that people with MS will be able to self-manage their disease safely with changes to their eating that are informed by evidence-based information,” she said.
“People with MS want tools that will help them to make safe decisions for their health, while health professionals want resources available to them to guide their clients to make safe behaviour changes over time.
“As a person with MS myself and one of the few dietetic-trained MS experts globally, I know that the current evidence for nutrition, a recognised lifestyle factor in MS, has limited consistency and quality.”
Over the next three years, the grant will help Professor Probst and her team to assist people with MS to self-manage their disease safely with progressive changes to their lifestyle, which are informed by evidence-based information supported by their healthcare team.
One of the tools to be developed will be a dietary tracker for people with MS using images of food to monitor their diet.
Dr Vivienne Guan and her team, including Dr Peng Wang, Professor Lei Wang and Professor Probst have been awarded an incubator grant of $24,790, to develop a dietary tracking tool using machine learning.
Dr Guan said tracking of a person’s intake at eating occasions is important when formulating tailored dietary advice.
“The symptoms of MS – including fatigue, pain, cognitive decline and mobility restrictions – could make tracking diet a challenge” she said.
“This project will focus on combining various novel models of machine learning with over 17 years of dietetic practice from our research team to develop a state-of-the-art dietary tracking tool.”
Approximately 25,600 Australians live with MS, a chronic and debilitating disease affecting the central nervous system.
“We’re delighted to mark our 50th anniversary by announcing this landmark funding of $6.9 million for new research,” MS Australia CEO Rohan Greenland said.
“We are at a critical point where we need to supercharge our research efforts. By supporting Australian researchers such as the University of Wollongong’s Associate Professor Probst and Dr Guan, and their work towards diet and nutrition for both people with MS and healthcare professionals, we have a much greater opportunity to make the big gains in MS that are still so desperately needed.”
For more information about MS Australia and the 2022 grant round, click here.
ABOUT MS AUSTRALIA
MS Australia is Australia’s national multiple sclerosis (MS) not-for-profit organisation that empowers researchers to identify ways to treat, prevent and cure MS, seeks sustained and systemic policy change via advocacy, and acts as the national champion for Australia’s community of people affected by MS.
MS Australia represents and collaborates with its Member Organisations, people with MS, their carers, families and friends and various national and international bodies to:
- Fund, coordinate, educate and advocate for MS research as part of the worldwide effort to solve MS
- Provide the latest evidence-based information and resources
- Help meet the needs of people affected by MS