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Full NameDr Hugh Kearney

School of Medicine

Trinity College Dublin

Email Address:Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Research Fields
  • neuroscience and mental health
Postgrad Medical Specialties
  • Medicine
Medical Subspecialties
  • Neurology
My Work

My main area of interest is the association between the immune response to Epstein Barr Virus and multiple sclerosis. We recently explored this idea in a study by developing a blood test to measure the inflammatory response. This was done by stimulating a whole blood sample with EBNA-1. Pubmed ID: 38547427. Past work includes spinal cord MRI, widefield retinal testing and identification of cortical lesions on MRI.

Potential Projects

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that results in the removal of the myelin coating on nerves. People with MS are also living longer than before, and additionally, there is an increase in late-onset presentations (>50 years). Both of these factors emphasise the importance of age in MS pathogenesis given that it is the most important risk factor for the progression of the disease.

Despite this, the cause of later onset MS and progression are not yet fully understood but may relate to a process known as inflammageing. This can occur in older adults without any known neurological disease and results in inflammatory changes in the immune system. Given that dysregulated inflammatory responses are at the heart of MS pathogenesis, there is an urgent need to further understand the relationship between inflammageing and MS.

Three important questions arise in the MS clinic in an ageing cohort. Firstly, how aggressively to treat the disease with later onset? Secondly, why do older people have a lesser response to disease-modifying therapies? Thirdly, when is it possible to safely stop MS medications in an ageing immune system?

To address these important questions that we regularly face in the MS clinic, we propose developing a study to obtain a deeper understanding of how the ageing process affects immune function in people with MS. This would be with the central hypothesis that increased biological age leads to decreased viral control of EBV and leads to disease progression with downstream neurological dysfunction.

In addition to age other biological factors will be considered in terms of their impact on the immune response to EBV as well as quantifying the extent of pathology arising from MS in this context.

Emerging Supervisor

Dr Nollaig Bourke, Ussher Assistant Professor in Inflammageing in Trinity College Dublin and an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Hudson Institute of Medical Research/Monash University in Melbourne, Australia