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OCCAMS

A multidisciplinary team investigating the link between MS and the Epstein-Barr virus.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, incurable disease of the brain and spinal cord, where the immune system attacks and degenerates the protective myelin sheath around nerves, leading to disruption in brain signals to the rest of the body. It affects more than 33,000 people in Australia alone and can result in a range of disabling symptoms, including loss of mobility, fatigue, incontinence, and changes to vision.

The Open Coast-to-Coast Australian Multiple Sclerosis (OCCAMS) consortium is a world-class interdisciplinary team of clinicians, scientists and consumers working in hospitals, research institutes, universities and consumer organisations from Australia and around the world.

The consortium was assembled to further investigate the current epidemiological and clinical evidence suggesting that infection with the Epstein-Barr virus is necessary but not sufficient to cause multiple sclerosis (MS). Specifically, the team will study the variability in an individual’s immune response to Epstein-Barr virus that may contribute to MS.

OCCAMS, in collaboration with its industry partners, will leverage state-of-the-art technologies to study the first demyelinating episodes in people with MS, and first-degree relatives, to determine the differences in the immune response to Epstein-Barr virus. Machine learning will be used to predict an individual’s risk and form the basis for future primary prevention studies.

Patients

Clinicians

If you wish to be involved or have patients, please email: OCCAMS@garvan.org.au.  

Researchers

Interested scientific researchers can email: OCCAMS@garvan.org.au.



Co-Leads

  • Tri Phan at the Garvan Institute
    Professor Tri Phan

    Professor Phan is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Precision Immunology Program and the ACRF INCITe Centre at Garvan. As a practicing clinician-scientist Professor Phan is ideally positioned to bridge the gap between ‘hard-core’ basic science research and clinical translation. He is a pioneer and early adopter of innovative cutting-edge technologies, including single cell genomics, to solve long-standing clinical and biological questions. He was awarded the ANSTO/Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology.

  • Dr Jennifer Massey

    Dr Massey is a consultant neurologist with a specialist interest in neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis. She works across the St Vincent’s Health Campus in Sydney, including her role as the lead neurologist in the ongoing AHSCT for MS and other neuroimmunological disease trials and is a co-investigator on other MS clinical trials. Dr Massey remains passionate about the care of patients with MS and is active in translational research with a recent successful NHMRC grant to investigate the role of Epstein-Barr virus in MS.

Health Experience Advisory Board (HEAB)

OCCAMS collaborates with an HEAB, a model of patient governance established at the Australian National University (ANU). Work also continues closely with an embedded Health Experience Team, comprised of four people with MS (PwMS) and health services researchers, to ensure that the research and its outcomes are co-generated, reflecting the needs and preferences of end-users. The ANU researchers and patient advocates of the Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH) group have provided a blueprint for consumer engagement.

Australian Capital Territory

Australian National University (ANU)
  • A/Prof Jane Desborough
  • Dr Anne Parkinson
OHIOH Team, ANU
  • Mr Mark Elisha
  • Ms Katrina Chisholm
  • Ms Janet Drew
  • Dr Vanessa Fanning
John Curtin School of Medical Sciences, ANU
  • Prof David Tscharke
  • A/Prof Anne Bruestle

Tasmania

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania
  • Prof Alex Hewitt

Victoria

Monash Health and Monash University
  • Dr Nevin John

Western Australia

Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science
  • Prof Allan Kermode
  • Dr Marzena Fabis-Pedrini
  • Ms Susan Walters

New South Wales

Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Prof Tri Phan
  • A/Prof Elissa Deenick
  • Prof Chris Goodnow
  • Dr Katherine Jackson
  • Dr Seyhan Yazar
  • Prof Joseph Powell
  • Dr Manu Singh
  • Ms Mary-Anne Young
  • Dr Kamila Marzec
St Vincent’s Hospital Innovation Precinct
  • Dr Jennifer Massey
  • Dr John Zaunders
  • Dr Ian Sutton
  • Dr Brad Milner
  • Ms Solange Obeid
UNSW Sydney
  • Dr Sara Ballouz
  • A/Prof Kathy Petoumenos
  • Dr Mee Ling Munier
University of Sydney
  • Dr Grant Parnell
  • A/Prof Mainthan Palendira
Westmead Hospital
  • Dr Justin Garber
  • Prof Sanjay Swaminathan
Sydney Eye Hospital
  • A/Prof Clare Fraser

International Collaborators

  • Prof Nicholas Schwab: University of Münster, Germany
  • Prof Alan Rickinson: University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • A/Prof Scott Boyd: Stanford University, USA

MS Australia

  • Dr Julia Morahan (Head of Research)
  • Dr Fiona McKay (Research Coordinator)

Industry Partner

10x Genomics

Key publications

  • Afrasiabi, A., Ahlenstiel, C., Swaminathan, S., Parnell, G.P. (2023). "The interaction between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis genetic risk loci: insights into disease pathogenesis and therapeutic opportunities." Clin Transl Immunology 12(6): e1454.
  • Dyer, Z., Tscharke, D., Sutton, I., Massey, J. (2023). "From bedside to bench: how existing therapies inform the relationship between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis." Clin Transl Immunology 12(2): e1437.
  • Phan, T. G. (2023). "Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis: the dawn of a new age." Clin Transl Immunology 12(6): e1457.
  • Thomas, O. G., Rickinson, A., Palendira, U. (2023). "Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis: moving from questions of association to questions of mechanism." Clin Transl Immunology 12(5): e1451.

Other publications

OCCAMS team publications are in bold

  • Angelini, D.F. et al. PLoS Pathog 9, e1003220 (2013)
  • Argelaguet, R. et al. Genome Biol 21, 111 (2020)
  • Bäckerholm, A. et al. BioRxiv, 2022.2005.2024.492331 (2022)
  • Bar-Or, A. et al. Trends Mol Med 26, 296-310 (2020)
  • Bjornevik, K. et al. Science 375, 296-301 (2022)
  • Brew-Sam, N. et al. BMJ Open 12, e060326 (2022)
  • Cencioni, M.T. et al. Nature Reviews Neurology 17, 399-414 (2021)
  • Harley, J.B. et al. Nat Genet 50, 699-707 (2018)
  • Henschke, A. et al. Journal of Personalized Medicine 11, 791 (2021)
  • Hong, T. et al. Genome Res (2021)
  • Houen, G. et al. Front Immunol 11 (2020)
  • International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics, C. Science 365 (2019)
  • Lanz, T.V. et al. Nature 603, 321-327 (2022)
  • Lassmann, H. et al. Brain 134, 2772-2786 (2011)
  • Li, R. et al. Nat Immunol 19, 696-707 (2018)
  • Lunemann, J.D. et al. J Exp Med 205, 1763-1773 (2008)
  • Mouat, I.C. et al. Elife 10 (2021)
  • Parnell, G.P. et al. Front Immunol 8, 425 (2017)
  • Patsopoulos, N.A. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 8 (2018)
  • Pender, M.P. Trends Immunol 24, 584-588 (2003)
  • Pender, M.P. Neuroscientist 17, 351-367 (2011)
  • Pender, M.P. et al. Clin Transl Immunology 6, e126 (2017)
  • Phillips, C. et al. in Our Health in Our Hands (OHIOH), Australian National University (2020)
  • Schneider-Hohendorf, T. et al. J Exp Med 219 (2022)
  • Singh, M. et al. Cell 180, 878-894 e819 (2020)
  • Soldan, S.S. et al. PLoS Pathog 17, e1009618 (2021)
  • Soldan, S.S. et al. Nat Rev Microbiol (2022)
  • Stubbington, M.J. et al. J Immunol 208, 173.109-173.109 (2022)
  • Tangye, S.G. et al. J Exp Med 214, 269-283 (2017)
  • Voskuhl, R.R. et al. Nat Rev Neurol 8, 255-263 (2012)
  • Yazar, S. et al. Science 376, eabf3041 (2022)

We thank the following organisations who are funding OCCAMS

  • Medical Research Future Fund – 2022 – Multiple Sclerosis Research Stream 3-4 (MRF2024553)
  • MS Australia
  • NHMRC Fellowships and Investigator grants
  • St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation
  • St Vincent’s Curran Foundation
  • UNSW Triple I Clinically Accredited Group