Motor Neurone Disease Research

‘Proteomic and Molecular Investigations into the Diagnosis and Progression of Motor Neuron Disease by the Identification of Biomarkers found in Plasma ‘

Macquarie University, NSW
Awarded 2019
Alaine Davidson PhD Scholarship (Rotary District 9650)

“Without a potential biomarker, it is difficult to perform clinical trials to evaluate potential treatments, as it is difficult to determine whether the tested drug is beneficial.”

Researcher Profile

I have been studying and working in disciplines, pathology, biotechnology and scientific research for 10 years. I find these areas interesting because of their broad range of techniques, applications and outcomes to the community, health and science.

I am a country Australian and have travelled to study/work in Wagga Wagga, Canberra and Sydney. I wish to use my knowledge, qualifications and skills to provide an understanding of disease pathology and biology, specifically in the neurodegenerative disease, motor neuron disease. I believe that understanding disease pathology is vital to improve patient/clinician/carer support and care by determining diagnostic and prognostic techniques.

Project Summary

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease that can be difficult to confidently diagnose during its early stages due to misinterpretation of signs and symptoms as other neurodegenerative diseases. This is an important issue, as confident diagnosis early in disease would ultimately allow earlier treatment to delay or halt the disease along with aiding in possible treatment monitoring. This may be achieved through the discovery of biomarkers to enable clinicians, patients and families with a clearer understanding of the disease and improve patient outcomes.

Biomarkers can be elevated/reduced protein levels found within bodily fluids such as blood plasma. These biomarkers are easily detectable and indicate to a clinician whether a disease is present in a patient. From studying biomarkers, a diagnosis can be obtained, and the measurement of disease progression can be monitored. Additionally, medications could be personalised to the patients to ensure best possible outcomes for both the patient in management of disease and quality of life. This project will use protein discovery and analysis techniques to identify and target potential biomarkers from MND patient plasma samples.

The identification of biomarkers in this research aims to:

  1. Increase the understanding of disease diagnosis and progression and in turn the disease pathology of MND.
  2. Create methods for researching biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis that can be applied to future studies when using protein (proteomic) and molecular techniques.

Supervisors: Professor Roger Chung & Dr Albert Lee