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Hope for those living with Motor Neurone Disease: Breakthrough drug could slow progression

JOHN STANLEY

After almost two decades of research, Australian researchers have made a major breakthrough in the fight against Motor Neurone Disease.

A trial of 32 patients in Sydney and Melbourne showed progression had been slowed by 70 per cent after six months.

More than 2000 Australians live with the illness, which progressively shuts down muscles until the sufferer can no longer walk, eat or breath.

Researchers have likened the breakthrough to the first use of chemotherapy to treat cancer.

But Melbourne University neuroscientist Professor Peter Crouch tells John Stanley there is still plenty of work to do.

“We’re not yet at a stage where if someone is diagnosed with this disease tomorrow, they’re not yet going to be prescribed this drug we’ve developed.

“We have just reached a very important milestone in the process which is developing drugs for diseases such as this one.”

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Macquarie University’s Centre for MND Research Professor Dominic Rowe tells John Stanley phase one of the study has been completed.

“We’ve been able to show that for some people, this medication they can tolerate it and it hasn’t upset them too much.

“We’re very encouraged that for some people on the medication, we’re able to slow the rate of progression of Motor Neurone Disease.”

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The next trial, involving 80 patients in Australia and the US, is due to begin later this year.

Fight MND Foundation Campaign Director Bec Daniher tells Natalie Peters and Erin Molan the results are “very, very encouraging”.

“We’ve had such fantastic support from the entire Australian population as well as the federal government and the state government.”

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