Motor Neurone Disease Research

‘Advanced diffusion weighted imaging techniques and quantitative susceptibility mapping in the assessment of motor neurone disease’

Monash University, VIC
Awarded 2018
Co-funded by Rotary Club of Spring Bay

“Having a reliable bio-marker which could help diagnose the disease early would relieve a great deal of stress for these patients and their families.”

Researcher Profile

Anjan Bhattarai is currently enrolled as a PhD student in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University. The focus of his PhD project is to investigate structural brain changes in Motor Neurone Disease (MND) using quantitative neuroimaging techniques.

This project is a collaborative project between Monash Biomedical Imaging (MBI), Monash University and Calvary Health Care Bethlehem.  Prior to his PhD, Anjan had worked as a research officer at MBI. Anjan completed his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from College of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Sciences, Nepal before completing his Master’s degree in Electronic Engineering (Biomedical) at Latrobe University.

Project Summary

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease which currently has no known cure and usually leads to death due to muscle weakness and respiratory failure within 2-5 years from onset of symptoms. About 8.7 per 100,000 Australians are affected by MND (Economics, November 2015). Diagnosis can take one year to be confirmed as there are no definitive tests for MND. Early diagnosis and early treatment would give the best chance of preventing irreversible damage to the nervous system.

Research in MND is needed to better understand the underlying brain changes and how this relates to the different types of symptoms and progression of symptoms seen in MND. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scan is a non-invasive technique to investigate human brain changes in vivo. Advanced MRI techniques will be used to investigate how these changes might progress from early to later stages in the limb onset form of MND. The project will address the question of whether structural changes are present early in the brain in these people compared to healthy people.

This information will help answer questions relating to the sequence of cell death in motor neurons and has the potential to significantly contribute to the understanding of this devastating disease and enable earlier diagnosis and tracking of brain abnormalities.

Supervisors: Dr Phyllis Chua, Dr Zhaolin Chen and Professor Gary Egan