Head of laboratory
Inflammatory neuropathies such as multiple sclerosis cause severe paralysis and loss of sensation. We have studied antibodies found within patients with inflammatory neuropathies and shown that they bind to nerve fibres at the nodes of Ranvier where nerve impulses are generated. Some antibodies affect the activity of ion channels and hence cause a block in the nerve conduction. Other antibodies bind to components of the Schwann cells that form the insulating compact myelin around nerve fibres thereby slowing nerve conduction.
By using treatment which removes or neutralises such antibodies we are able to restore nerve function so that patients formerly confined to bed or wheelchair can return to normal lives.
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) is the major treatment for inflammatory neuropathy, but this treatment costs the health budget $60 million a year. Many of the world’s most populous countries cannot afford it and need to use less effective drugs with more serious side effects. We are studying the mechanism of action of IVIg with the plan to develop cheaper synthetic compounds with equal or better efficacy.