Aussie scientists given grant to slow progression of degenerative brain diseases

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-30 09:31:14|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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MELBOURNE, May 30 (Xinhua) -- An Australian research institution has been awarded a research grant on Tuesday to develop a drug to slow the progression of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Tasmania's Menzies Institute was given the 750,000 U.S. dollar grant to research treating MND with a drug already being trialled for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy and schizophrenia.

MND is a name given to a group of diseases that cause motor neurons, the brain cells that control voluntary movement, to deteriorate and die.

The disease, which currently does not have a cure, can affect a person's ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe and eventually causes death.

Once diagnosed with MND, a person's life expectancy is typically between three and five years.

More than 2,000 Australians are afflicted with MND with an average of two people being killed by the disease every day.

Tracey Dickson, the deputy director of the Menzies Institute, said researchers were optimistic of slowing the progression of MND.

She said the team would base their research on the idea that the MND is caused by an imbalance in the brain between excitation and inhibition.

"This grant is to fund a three-year program of research on motor neurone disease," Dickson told Australian media on Tuesday.

"This drug, which is called Neuropeptide Y, we hope, will go to restoring the balance that occurs.

"This will hopefully stop a cascade which triggers in the brain but then spreads to other parts of the central nervous system.

"This is a rapidly progressing disease, so any drug that could slow down the degenerative process would give people the option to live longer."