CANBERRA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- A new test which helps identify the deadly motor neurone disease (MND), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, could assist researchers in one day developing a cure, Australian researchers said on Thursday.
The new urine test, which was co-developed by Australian researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide, is able to detect the presence of a "key protein biomarker" which is found in sufferers of MND.
Flinders University's Dr Mary-Louise Rogers said the test could soon be used in clinical trials.
"A standardized, easy-to-collect urine test could be used as a more accurate progression and prognostic biomarker in clinical trials," Rogers said in a statement released on Thursday.
"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."
Rogers said the biomarker, urinary protein 75ECD, was the only one which can help doctors determine whether or not someone is suffering from MND.
There is currently no cure for the disease, which causes the motor neurons, or nerve cells that control muscle movements, to slowly die.
In Australia alone, two people are diagnosed with the disease daily, while an Australian dies from MND every 12 hours.
According to Deloitte Access Economics, the disease costs the nation's healthcare system more than 1.4 billion U.S. dollars every year.