Dr Luke McAlary and Team IHMRI with Professor Justin Yerbury.

MNDRIA recognises IHMRI Motor Neurone Disease Projects

The MND Research Institute of Australia has awarded almost $3 million to support the best Motor Neurone Disease research in 2020.

Associate Professor Lezanne Ooi has been awarded a $100,000 Benalla Act to d’feet MND Research Innovator Grant to support her project investigating ways to protect motor neurons before they start to break down in MND.

“The processes that control how motor neurons communicate with one another are affected even before the symptoms of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) present in patients,” said Associate Professor Ooi.

“Since these changes in electrical properties are common to familial and sporadic ALS, it’s likely that these mechanisms are important in the onset of the disease and its progression.”

“We have identified how and why these electrical properties of motor neurons change and now we will test whether preventing these changes, using pharmacological and genetic approaches, can protect motor neurons from degeneration,” she added.

Dr Kara Vine Perrow has also been awarded $100,000 Run MND NSW Research Innovator Grant to support her project investigating better ways to deliver drug treatments for people diagnosed with MND.

“In a pilot study we have shown that we can potentially target motor neurons affected by the disease by crossing the blood brain barrier,” said Dr Kara Vine Perrow.

“I believe there is great potential to better target delivery of drug treatments to slow the progression of MND and its devastating effects on sufferers.”

“This project involves a talented team of multi-disciplined researchers which is in a unique position to make significant advances towards novel drug delivery strategies for MND,” stated Dr Vine Perrow.

Dr Luke McAlary has been awarded $300,000 for a three year Bill Gole MND Postdoctoral Fellowship starting in 2020.

“My MND project will investigate the shape and properties of the key protein that forms toxic clumps in people suffering from MND,” said Dr McAlary.

“I believe that by determining the shape of these clumps, we can design more effective therapies that either block them from forming or remove them from cells.”

“My aim is to incorporate structural biology, chemical biology, cell biology, biophysics and immunology – in an attempt to design and identify new therapies.”

“This project has the potential to provide more information on both the cause and a potential treatment for the bulk of MND cases,” added Dr McAlary.

MNDRIA has thanked its generous donors who fund ongoing research into MND.

The total $2.9 million grant pool awarded to researchers includes the Betty Laidlaw MND Research Prize for a mid-career researcher, two postdoctoral fellowships and 20 innovator grants.

“We are very fortunate to have such talented MND researchers here in the Illawarra and they are very deserving of this recognition,” said Distinguished Professor David J. Adams, IHMRI’s CEO and Executive Director.

“I congratulate the winners, and IHMRI will continue to support their research projects and teams to find the cause and better treatments for MND,” he added.

Related stories

MND Awareness Week launched in the Illawarra

USA Department of Defense funds MND research

Professor Justin Yerbury wins MND research grant for 2019

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867

e: louisenegline@ihmri.org.au

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