Health World-first way to fast-track treatment for killer disease

World-first way to fast-track treatment for killer disease

A new, simple test to pick up signals of Motor Neuron Disease (MND) in patients is being pioneered by Flinders University researchers.

The test measures a key protein biomarker found in the urine of MND sufferers as the neuro-degenerative disease progresses.

Regular accurate and affordable testing of symptoms could lead to improved treatment and better interventions, says Flinders University Centre for Neuroscience senior research fellow Dr Mary-Louise Rogers.

“A standardised, easy-to-collect urine test could be used as a more accurate progression and prognostic biomarker in clinical trials,” Dr Rogers says.

“This will accelerate progress towards more rapid identification of improved treatments for MND and save time and money by faster exclusion of less effective or ineffective drugs.

“And in the future, it also could potentially be used to test people for early signs of pre-familial MND progression and used instead of patient questionnaires for regular testing of disease progress or drug suitability in existing MND cases.”

There is no cure for MND which causes the motor neurons or nerve cells that control muscle movements to slowly die.

Every day two Australians are diagnosed with MND and two people die of the condition.

The test has the potential to expedite the worldwide quest to develop better treatments, or even a cure for the disease. It is under further development at Flinders University and the University of Miami and will soon be used in clinical trials.

The study was conducted by Flinders University Centre for Neuroscience researcher Stephanie Shepheard and her supervisor Dr Mary-Louise Rogers.

Among the collaborators and co-authors of the study is Dr Michael Benatar, a leading researcher and clinician at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Neurology. Dr Benatar has trialled the biomarker test on MND patients in the US.

Read more about this vital research here. Story credit: Flinders University newsroom.

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