Postcard from Australia

Emma Devenney at this year's symposium in Milan

Emma Devenney at last year’s symposium in Milan

Dr Emma Devenney is an MND Association and Neuroscience Research Australia funded PhD student investigating the Cerebellum in MND and Frontotemporal Dementia at Neuroscience Research Australia. She is finding out what role it plays in the symptoms of patients with the C9orf72 mutation. Here she blogs about her work from Australia!

Finally after more than 12 months of preparation and anticipation I touched down in Sydney to be greeted by a city in the throes of early summer. Sydney in the summer is the epitome of the Australian dream and it is easy to see how it has enticed many Irish and British immigrants to its shores. The blue skies, beautiful beaches and a lively cultural and social scene are amongst many of the cities attractions and distractions.

Neuroscience Research Australia is in the exuberant Eastern suburbs of Sydney; an area where the British and Irish expatriate communities have integrated well into Australian society and are as reliant on a daily ‘flat white’ as any self-respecting Australian. The research centre is located down the hill from the Prince of Wales hospital in the suburb of Randwick. Read the rest of this entry »

Waste disposal in MND

Dr Rob Layfield’s research at the University of Nottingham is funded by the MND Association. His research aims to investigate the cells waste disposal system, which could lead to new ways in how doctors manage the symptoms of the disease.

MND Association-funded researcher Alice Goode using NMR to investigate the structure of a mutant p62 protein.

MND Association-funded researcher Alice Goode using NMR to investigate the structure of a mutant
p62 protein.

Our work focuses on the effects of SQSTM1 mutations on the structure of the protein it encodes, p62. We are also testing the idea that MND-mutant p62 is defective at mediating protein degradation via autophagy (the cells waste disposal system). Read the rest of this entry »

Visualising FUS

Prof Vladimir Buchman (Cardiff University) was awarded funding by the MND Association for his research into the fused-in-sarcoma (FUS) protein. Dr Tatyana Shelkovnikova began the project in April 2014. Find out more here.

“For the MND Association’s blog a day we have this very nice (we think it is nice!) collage illustrating how FUS aggregates (green) gradually develop in cultured cells expressing a mutant form of this protein -enjoy the image!”

fus image

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Streaking Meerkats

In April 2014 over 30 runners from the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) took part in the Sheffield half marathon. The team consisted of researchers and family members (one of which had even travelled all the way from Australia to take part!). Association-funded researcher, Dr Emily Goodall, blogs about the Streaking Meerkats running team’s half marathon challenge.

A unique running team

I took up running for the usual reasons, to increase fitness, lose a bit of weight and boost energy levels. Running was the ideal exercise for a hectic lifestyle, just grab a pair of trainers and get going! I joined a very friendly running group where I met Tracy, a motivational fitness instructor with a ‘can do’ attitude. So far, so normal.

Then a crazy idea began to germinate, why not set myself a real challenge – running a half marathon with less than a years’ worth of training. This developed into – why do this alone, a team has greater power to raise money and awareness. Add a catchy team name to attract attention and the Streaking Meerkats were born!

Mo at streaking meerkat bootcamp with Monty, local mascot for “not the full monty” fun run team!

Mo at streaking meerkat bootcamp with Monty, local mascot for “not the full monty” fun run team!

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The ALS biomarkers study: a journey into the disease

Dr Andrea Malaspina is an Association-funded researcher investigating biomarkers, or ‘biological fingerprints’ of MND. Here he blogs about working with patients and basic science.

I regularly meet people living with MND due to my role as a Consultant Neurologist at the Bart’s and the London MND Care Centre and one of the most common questions I get asked is about getting involved in research. My research enables people living with MND to take part, therefore bridging the gap between the lab and the clinic.

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Blizzard Institute MND group

Queen Mary’s University of London (QMUL) Blizard Institute MND group

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The Trust Fundraising Team

With a funding commitment of £8 million to a portfolio of over 50 on-going projects, fundraising for MND research continues to be a key area of work for the MND Association. Our Trust Fundraising team blog about their role in helping to achieve a world free from MND.

So how do we fundraise for research?

At the MND Association funds come from a range of sources including trusts, major donors, legacies, individuals and our fundraising branch and group network.   Our branches and groups do a huge amount of fundraising for the Association, raising around £2.3m a year and they often generously choose to support research programmes that are close to their area of operation.

Our trust funding ranges from funders making large donations to specific research projects such as the recent support of the Garfield Weston Foundation for Dr Andrea Malaspina’s research programme looking for biomarkers in ALS, to a whole range of trust funders who make regular, small general donations towards any element of our research programme. Read the rest of this entry »

Can fish get MND???

Dr Tennore Ramesh is based at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) based at the University of Sheffield. His Association funded research is investigating the early stages of MND in zebrafish, as well as screening potential drugs.

Dr Ramesh Tennore

Dr Ramesh Tennore

Would you ever consider that fish and humans have parallels? Interestingly it’s a “Yes”. They are vertebrates (animals with backbones) like humans and mice. They have organs that are similar to humans and have a brain and spinal cord. But wait a minute, the fish have gills not lungs and they do not have a tongue or a larynx with which to make noise or speak, which is an important symptom in MND and are generally called bulbar symptoms.

Zebrafish in the past were widely used to study early development. However, they are emerging as good models to study human diseases that occur in adulthood. Our laboratory wanted to test if zebrafish could model such complex neurological diseases. Read the rest of this entry »


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