QBI to launch clinical MND drug trial

9 Jun 2017

QBI's Professor Perry Bartlett has received $1 million from the FightMND foundation to support a clinical trial to help fast-track a potential treatment for motor neurone disease.

Professor Perry Bartlett will trial a drug that may protect motor neurons and delay progression of the disease. 

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing neurological disorder that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord controlling the way we walk, talk, eat, speak, and breathe. The loss of these nerve cells (motor neurons) leads to progressive muscle weakness and wasting. MND, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, currently has no cure.

UQ Centre for Clinical Research and Queensland Brain Institute’s Associate Professor Robert Henderson and UQ School of Biomedical Sciences Associate Professor Trent Woodruff have also each received $1 million for drug trials. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Ward said the grants would support UQ researchers to find potential therapies for patients with MND.

“These translational research grants from FightMND will accelerate the work of UQ’s world-class researchers in developing treatments for this devastating disease,” she said.

Drug treatment aims to slow MND progression

Professor Bartlett’s research has previously shown that a protein called EphA4 regulates MND progression through its involvement of motor neuron loss in the spinal cord. The new research will focus on a drug that blocks EphA4, and clinical trials in MND patients for this will begin soon.  

The funding is part of a $7.8 million boost to MND research from FightMND, the foundation, previously known as Cure for MND.

About 5-10% of MND patients have a known family history of MND. For the remaining cases (90-95%), the cause is unknown. Each day in Australia 2 people die and 2 people are diagnosed with MND and the life expectancy is 27 months after diagnosis. Almost anyone is susceptible to MND - it occurs in ages ranging from 20 years to 70 years.

Find out more about MND research at QBI.


Media:  Donna Lu, communications@qbi.uq.edu.au