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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Autumn 2020

A fresh look for NDIS support We’re all in this together – a message from our CEO Myth busting the stigma of attending counselling Food matters

RESEARCH MOTOR NEURONE

RESEARCH MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE From News Medical Lifesciences Read more at: news-medical.net/news Could high cholesterol lead to motor neurone disease? A new study published in the journal Brain: a Journal of Neurology suggests a novel hypothesis on how MND develops as a result of abnormal cholesterol metabolism within nerve cells. Researchers say this could help diagnose and treat the condition more accurately. The researchers found some evidence that MND is linked to an abnormal build-up of cholesterol and other lipids within cellular compartments. However, this could be due to any of a host of abnormal genes. MND is an umbrella term, with many different types of illness grouped in this category. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal disease and the most common MND, affecting about 2 per 100,000 individuals worldwide. There is no cure at present. Over 2000 deaths occur each year due to this condition, but the cause is still unknown. Some have speculated that it could be due to genetic mutations, heavy metal poisoning or pollutants in agricultural occupations. Andrew Crosby, Lead Author says “For years, we have known that a large number of genes are involved in MND, but so far it hasn’t been clear if there’s a common underlying pathway that connects them. Our group’s previous research identified 13 genes which if altered may cause the condition, and some of these discoveries have proven crucial as the genes we identified are directly involved in the cholesterol processing pathway.” PARKINSON’S RESEARCH From Parkinson’s UK Read more at: parkinsons.org.uk/ news/gut-bacteria-could-guardagainst-parkinsons Parkinson’s and gut health This research project, co-funded by Parkinson’s UK, builds on previous research linking brain function to gut bacteria. New research suggests that a bacteria which boosts digestive health can slow – and even reverse – the build-up of a protein associated with Parkinson’s. Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee have identified a probiotic, so-called good bacteria, which prevents the build-up of a protein which is linked with Parkinson’s. In people with Parkinson’s, alphasynuclein protein builds up and forms toxic clumps which are associated with the death of dopamine producing nerve cells. The loss of dopamine is what causes motor symptoms in Parkinson’s. Using roundworms, scientists found that a probiotic called Bacillus subtilis could not only protect against the build-up of this protein, but can also clear some of the already formed protein clumps. These new findings could pave the way for future studies that gauge how supplements such as probiotics impact Parkinson’s. The initial findings are promising, but there is still work to be done to investigate the effectiveness of Bacillus subtilis in treating Parkinson’s symptoms. Lead researcher, Dr Maria Doitsidou, from the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The results provide an opportunity to investigate how changing the bacteria that make up our gut microbiome affects Parkinson’s. The next steps are to confirm these results in mice, followed by fast-tracked clinical trials since the probiotic we tested is already commercially available”. HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE UPDATE From Science Daily. Read more at: sciencedaily.com/ releases An international clinical trial has found that a new drug for Huntington’s disease is safe, and that treatment with the drug successfully lowers levels of the abnormal protein that causes the debilitating disease in patients. "This is a tremendously exciting and promising result for patients and families affected by this devastating genetic brain disorder," said Dr. Blair Leavitt, neurologist and Director of research at the Centre for Huntington’s Disease at UBC. "For the first time, we have evidence that a treatment can not only decrease levels of the toxic disease-causing protein in patients, but that it is also safe and very well tolerated." Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal genetic neurological disease. It usually develops in adulthood and causes abnormal involuntary movements, psychiatric symptoms and dementia. About one in 10,000 people in Canada have HD. To date, no effective treatments have been proven to slow down progression of this disorder. HD is caused by a single known genetic mutation, and each child of a carrier of the mutation has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disease. Note: WA participants, with early stage Huntington’s disease, and who meet additional criteria, are sought for a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Contact the Perron Institute on 6457 0200 10

NURSING FLU SEASON - PROTECTING YOURSELF AND OTHERS SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN, MSCN GENERAL MANAGER STRATEGIC SUPPORTS AND RESIDENTIAL OPTIONS This coming flu season will be very different to others. COVID-19 is bringing many changes to how we currently live our lives. While we can’t change what is happening, we can make some positive changes and embrace the Health Department’s preventative hygiene measures. It’s important we support each other (albeit not physically), and while we remain isolated and in our home, let’s stay connected with others. Good mental health is important all year round, and especially during these uncertain times. If you are feeling down, speak to someone you trust, or visit one of the great support websites, including Beyond Blue for information and advice. Flu vaccinations are highly recommended for everyone over the age of six months, and especially important for those at risk including the young, the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses. This includes people living with neurological and other chronic conditions. My advice is to speak to your treating neurologist or GP, as they best understand you and can make specific recommendations. While it can happen at any time, it's more common to catch the flu, or experience flu-like symptoms, in the colder months of the year (April to October). PREVENTATIVE MEASURES FOR THE FLU AND COVID-19 / Annual flu vaccination – although this won’t cover you for COVID-19, it reduces the risk of getting both the flu and COVID-19 / Practice good hygiene • wash your hands frequently • bin used tissues • avoid sharing used dishes/towels • cover coughs and sneezes / Self-care at home • social distancing – keep 2 metres from others • get plenty of rest • drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks • keep warm • eat healthy foods • get plenty of fresh air • avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. If you live alone let someone know if you aren’t feeling well so they can keep an eye on you. You can generally treat the symptoms of a mild cold or flu at home and get better within 7-10 days without treatment. If necessary, your local pharmacist can assist with over the counter treatments. See your doctor if you are unwell and experiencing high temperatures, headache, breathing difficulties or a rash, or if you are at all worried. You can also speak to a registered nurse for free advice 24/7 by calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222. If you would like to speak to someone about the Coronavirus, please call their 24/7 hotline on 1800 020 080. 11

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