Associate Professor Justin Yerbury and Rachel Yerbury

Is UBA1 a therapeutic target in MND?

IHMRI researcher Professor Justin Yerbury has been awarded the Dr Paul Brock MND Research Grant. 

The $100,000 grant is part of almost $4 million awarded by the MND Research Institute of Australia (MNDRIA) for new research projects starting in 2019. 

The Dr Paul Brock grant is an innovators grant, awarded to support Professor Yerbury’s research into whether supporting the overexpression of Ubiquitin-like modifier activating enzyme 1 (UBA1) will improve the symptoms of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  

UBA1is an enzyme which is encoded by the UBA1 gene. 

“A key contributing factor causing MND is dysfunctional protein recycling. Our genetic screen performed in yeast cells suggests a key enzyme in this recycling system modifies MND associated toxicity,” said Professor Justin Yerbury. 

“This project aims to determine if this enzyme is altered in MND. We propose that this particular enzyme can repair dysfunctional protein recycling and therefore may be a therapeutic target in MND.”  

Dr Paul Brock AM died in 2016 after a 20 year battle with motor neurone disease. 

A passionate educator, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in late 1996 and given less than five years to live. 

Dr Brock referred to MND as that ‘bloody mongrel’ disease. 

The recipient of last year’s Dr Paul Brock research grant was Professor Dominic Rowe AM from Macquarie University. 

Professor Rowe is also Professor Yerbury’s treating neurologist and appeared in the Australian Story documentary about Justin’s battle with MND.

Media  coverage


Australian Story documentary, No Surrender

Related stories

Justin Yerbury launches MND Research Appeal

Media contact

Louise Negline

M: 0417 044 867


Photo: Associate Professor Justin Yerbury and Rachel Yerbury

Photo credit: Trudi Simpkin

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