Towards a world free from Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

Our lab is interested in understanding how metabolic homeostasis at the systemic and cellular level can impact upon neurodegenerative processes.

Our Metabolic Exploration in Neurodegenerative Disease (MEND) research program centres on Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a fatal neurological condition in which the average life expectancy is 27 months following diagnosis. In MND, the irreversible degeneration of neurones in the central nervous system leads to progressive paralysis and eventually, death. There is no effective treatment for MND, and hence no cure.

We collaborate with clinicians and scientists across the world and Australia, and this underpins our strong translational, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research foundation. Because MND is a complex, heterogeneous, and multifactorial condition, we are undertaking a range of projects that span the clinical and basic sciences with the ultimate goal of identifying viable strategies that can be rapidly implemented in the clinic to improve quality of life and prognosis for patients who are currently under our care, and for those who will be diagnosed with MND in the future.

Patient-directed research

We work very closely with people who are living with MND, their families, caregivers and friends. Our patient-directed research is based at our clinical sites and is primarily overseen by Dr Steyn. We are assessing body composition and metabolic rate, as well as dietary intake and appetite regulation, and gut dynamics to understand the impact of altered whole body metabolism and human physiology on the clinical features of disease and patient outcome.

Laboratory models of MND

We are using mouse models of MND, and human myosatellite cell-derived muscle fibres and human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons to not only understand the mechanistic nature of MND, but to also conduct pre-clinical testing of potential therapeutic compounds. The combined use of mouse and human-derived models are integral to our goal of translating research findings into clinical trials for MND.