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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Autumn 2021

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Get to know your new President | Resilience: I get knocked down, but I get up again | MSWA’s m contribution to research | 36 years of Bulletin


RESEARCH Ms McGowan, CEO of the Stroke Foundation, said when treating stroke, “time is brain”. Treatment needs to be offered within the first few hours and preferably within the first ‘Golden Hour’. In a country the size of Australia, this has been a problem. This research project is led by co-chief investigators Professors Geoffrey Donnan and Stephen Davis at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and brings together experts from more than 30 of Australia’s leading health and academic institutes and charities as The Australian Stroke Alliance. The aim is to reduce mortality and narrow the urban, rural, and Indigenous healthcare gaps. Professor Donnan said this program has the scope to transform stroke treatment around the world. The announcement by the Federal Government, follows an initial million grant, awarded in 2019 through the Medical Research Future Fund to kickstart the project. million has been provided by philanthropic partners. FROM FIGHTMND Read more at: Pre-Clinical Development of SOD1 Genetic Therapy in Sporadic MND WA Murdoch University based researchers, Prof Steve Wilton, Prof Anthony Akkari and Dr Loren Flynn, are conducting MND research; one area focussing on identifying genetic markers that may explain the missing heritability of MND, and could help to predict age of onset and duration of disease. In discovering such markers, they will co-develop these with our antisense therapy pipeline to identify the best drug for the right patients. The researchers have also identified genetic markers that appear to play an important role in sporadic MND and predict these markers could contribute to understanding patient response in clinical trials. They are hopeful their discovery of the SOD1 suppression molecule will have broad implications for treating sporadic MND. The research team is aiming to advance their exciting new genetic drug so that it is ready to test in MND clinical trials. Recently, the team found that their lead drug, a SOD1-targeted antisense oligomer, delays the onset and slows progression of MND-like symptoms in a hereditary preclinical model of MND. FROM MND AUSTRALIA Read more at: Novel therapeutic strategies targeting TDP-43 in Motor Neurone Disease; A/Prof Yazi Ke, Macquarie University, NSW The research team has discovered a new, previously unidentified protein complex that appears to be involved in motor neurone disease (MND) which contributes to disease processes such as nerve cell death. Their proposal has three main aims: firstly, to understand how different components of this protein complex contribute to its function; secondly, to study this protein complex in an established MND mouse model to understand its disease-relevance; and finally, to harness the knowledge of this protein complex in the development of two highly feasible therapeutic approaches in a preclinical setting. It is hoped this project could identify new therapies for MND. NEW MS THERAPY Ofatumumab (Kesimpta®) is a new therapy for relapsing MS approved by the TGA and recommended for subsidy through PBS by PBAC. Ofatumumab is an antibody against a protein called CD20 found on the surface of certain types of immune cells called B cells. It is similar to another MS medication ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), which also targets cells with CD20 protein on their surface. Self-administered once per month via injection, ofatumumab uses a Sensoready Pen which autoinjects. Ofatumumab was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on 4 March 2021 for the treatment of adults with the relapsing forms of MS in Australia. An application was made to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to have ofatumumab listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). On 28 April 2021, the PBAC provided their recommendation for ofatumumab to be subsidised. This positive endorsement will now be passed to the Federal Government for final approval. Once this happens, ofatumumab will become an affordable treatment for people with MS. We recommend that people living with MS speak to their neurologist about what treatment best suits their individual circumstances. 12

RESEARCH IN FOCUS Here, we provide an insight into the research projects we are funding in Western Australia. In this edition, we look at our overall record-breaking contribution this year. OUR RECORD CONTRIBUTION OF M MSWA is proud to be Western Australia’s leading contributor to neurological research. Funding this work is a priority for MSWA because it creates real outcomes for people living with a neurological condition, by making new medical discoveries. In early 2021, we announced our million contribution to research. This is a new record that highlights our commitment to research and how much we value our community of fundraisers and supporters who help make all of this possible. MSWA is currently supporting research projects being conducted by the Perron Institute, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, Telethon Kids Institute, MS Research Australia (MSRA) and the International Progressive MS Alliance. SOME OF THE KEY PROJECTS We are excited to be funding Neuroplasticity Research led by the Perron Institute’s Associate Professor Jenny Rodger. The study is investigating the ability of the brain to change and rewire, or modify damaged neural connections using non-invasive brain stimulation. Senior Research Fellow Dr Lucinda Black is leading a team at Curtin University who are examining Dietary Implications in MS Research. The research involves the analysis of various dietary factors, patterns of food, nutrients intake, and their link to the risk of MS and disease progression. To date, research has been undertaken in red meat, fatty omega-3 acids, vitamin D and ultra-processed foods. Translating Research into Practice is a probe led by Executive Dean of Medical and Health Sciences from Edith Cowan University, Professor Moira Sim. The research is looking into several therapeutic interventions and who they will most benefit – specifically for people living with a neurological condition. Research is currently being conducted to see the effect of light therapy glasses on fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Additionally, the study is using a virtual reality video game with an exoskeleton apparatus to improve upper limb mobility. Finally, a study housed in the Telethon Kids Institute, is trying to understand the possibility of delaying the development of MS in high-risk individuals. The UVB Treatment Research is driven by Professor Prue Hart, as the team investigates the causal links for changes to blood cells associated with the worsening of MS. MSWA also allocates significant funding to MSRA (Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia) which is then allocated to various Australian MS research projects. A nominated portion of this is also used to support the International Progressive MS Alliance – a global collaboration working towards finding a greater understanding and better treatments for Progressive MS. READ MORE For more information about MSWA’s commitment to research and research projects we are currently funding, visit our website: commitment-to-research. 13