Neuroimmunology Group, Institute for Neuroscience and Muscle Research, Kids Research Institute at the Childrne's Hospital at Westmead (Sydney Children's Hospitals Network)

Lab head: Dr Fabienne Brilot-Turville
Location: Kids Research Institute at the Children's Hospital at Westmead

Lab members: K North (depthead), K North (head), S Cooper (inmr-dmrt), N Clarke (inmr-mmdt), B Barton (inmr-nft), R Webster (inmr-nft), J Burns (inmr-crt), E Oates (inmr-crt), R Dale (inmr-nit), F Brilot-Turville (inmr-nit), S Pillai (inmr-nit), B Owler (inmr-nst)
Funding: NHRMC, the Star Scientific Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia, Tourette Sydnrome Association USA
Research approach equipment: Our focus is to identify new targets of antibodies and to study the role of these antibodies in the pathogenesis of brain immune-mediated diseases in children. Our group is part of the Institute for Neuroscience and Muscle Research at the Kids Research Institute (the Children's Hospital at Westmead). The Kids Research Institute is a global leading translational research center for children associated with the University of Sydney. It is located in a brand new building besides the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Also present on the Westmead campus are the Westmead Millenium Institute and the Children Medical Research research Institute. The three institutes share state-of-the-art facilities including flow cytometry, imaging, genomics, and proteomics cores.

MohammadSS, SinclairK, PillaiS, MerhebV, AumannTD, Gill D, Dale RC, Brilot F.Herpes Simplex encephalitis relapse with chorea is associated with autoantibodies to NMDA Receptor or Dopamine-2 receptor. Movement Disorders Journal. accepted for publication on July 1st 2013. (I.F.: 4.558)

Amatoury M, Merheb V, Langer J, Wang XM, Dale RC, and Brilot F. High-throughput flow cytometry cell-based assay to detect antibodies to N-Methyl D-Aspartate receptor or Dopamine-2 receptor in human serum. Journal of Visualized Experiments. accepted for publication on March 27th 2013. In press.

DaleRC, Pillai S, & Brilot F. Cerebrospinal fluid CD19+ B cell expansion in NMDAR encephalitisDev Med Child Neurol. 2013; 55(2): 191-3(I.F.: 3.09)

DaleRC, MerhebV, Pillai S, WangD, CantrillL, MurphyTK, Ben-PaziH, VaradkarS, AumannTD, HorneMK, ChurchAJ, FathT, & Brilot F.Antibodies to surface dopamine 2 receptor in autoimmune movement and psychiatric disorders. Brain. 2012 vol. 135(11): 3453-3468 (I.F.: 9.45). This manuscript’s findings are highlighted in 1) Scientific Commentary written by Min Ling and Angela Vincent in Brain 2012:135; 3201-3205, 2) “Hot Topics” commentary written by Bettina Balint and Kailash Bhatia in Movement Disorders Journal, 2013: 28 (6); 733.

Exploring how autoantibodies are pathogenic in multiple sclerosis and demyelinating diseases in humans

Primary supervisor: Fabienne Brilot-Turville

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common relapsing demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). MS affects 1 individual in 1,000, and causes increasing physical and cognitive disabilities. MS has a high burden of care and results in annual 2 billion dollar cost to the Australian community. Patients are left with permanent neurological problems as the disease advances. MS primarily affects genetically susceptible young adults.

Recently, we have used a novel assay, which uses cells expressing the correctly folded native MOG protein at the cell surface. Autoantibodies targeting myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG autoantibodies) have recently been recognized as biomarkers in subsets of human adult and paediatric demyelinating diseases. However, how human MOG autoantibody participate in disease pathogenesis remains elusive. We next would like to determine whether anti-MOG antibody are pathogenic and participate in the demyelinating process.

A cellular model will been engineered to mimic cells in human brain. Neurons and glial cells will be matured and co-cultured. The expression of MOG will be determined using western blotting and immunocytochemistry. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy will be used to determine pathogenicity of autoantibodies.

Interested students are strongly advised to contact the project supervisor to discuss potential honours and Ph.D. projects (

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Russell Dale
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis, Antibody, Neuroimmunology