Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, swallow, and breathe fail to work normally and eventually die.
With no nerves to activate them, the muscles gradually weaken and waste away, and with no residual muscle strength MND patients are left motionless, mute, and trapped within their once active bodies. In the majority, the mind and intellect are left intact.
One in 400 Australians will be diagnosed with MND during their lifetime. Reliable diagnosis occurs late in disease progression, resulting in irreversible nerve damage. The average life expectancy is only 27 months from diagnosis in Australia.*
There are no cures. Treatments are very few in number and limited in effect.
Flinders University’s researchers Dr Mary-Louise Rogers and Dr Tim Chataway are pioneering a new and simple test to pick up early signals of Motor Neuron Disease for improved patient outcomes.
The world-first urine test, which detects a unique biomarker, has the potential to expedite the global quest to develop better treatments, or even a cure, for the deadly neuro-degenerative disease**.
For the development of new MND treatments, it is vital to have biochemical biomarker(s) to measure effects of therapeutic interventions. The biomarker developed at Flinders allows much earlier detection and measurement of MND than ever before. This allows investigators of new treatments to quickly and reliably determine if the study drug is effective, allowing faster progression to a reliable treatment and earlier identification and limiting of new treatments of where there is little or no benefit.
The Flinders-led discovery of this biomarker means the efficacy or lack of efficacy of new treatments and drugs can be more rapidly and reliably determined.
Effective MND drugs will be more rapidly and reliably identified.
At Flinders we strive to be world class in what we do, and our MND research is no exception.
Our research across the health sphere is vast and addresses issues of national and international importance.
From the broad environmental and social determinants of health, to the minute molecular basis of cancer prevention; from clinicians leading change in our health service delivery, to scientists imaging critical neuronal pathways; and from integrated tertiary care systems to rural, remote and Indigenous communities – our research truly makes a difference.
*Website MA. The first Deloitte Access Economics Report on the Economic analysis of motor neurone disease (MND) in Australia [online]. Available at: https://http://www.mndaust.asn.au/Influencing-policy/Economic-analysis-of-MND-(1).aspx. Accessed February 20th, 2017.
** (Shepheard et al., Neurology 2017;88:1137–1143)
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