About 2000 Australians live with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) which causes progressive degeneration of motor neurones in the brain and spinal cord. Professor Justin Yerbury’s research team at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) is dedicated to studying neuro-degeneration and MND.
Six members of Prof Yerbury’s family have died from MND and he was diagnosed with the condition in 2016. Despite losing the ability to walk, talk, move and breathe on his own, Prof Yerbury has continued his search for a treatment and cure. With your support, his research will be used to develop new drugs that could slow motor neurone loss.
The team at IHMRI have learned a lot about the molecular processes that cause MND. The next step is to translate that knowledge into therapies and the development of new drugs. The aim is to make MND a treatable condition rather than a death sentence.
$30,000 will help the team test their research in pre-clinical trials.
Prof Yerbury has devoted over a decade of his life to studying MND and IHMRI is committed to finding a cure for this insidious disease. Prof Yerbury is working with Dr Lezanne Ooi on a project to understand why motor neurones are specifically vulnerable to MND. They will investigate how and why the properties of motor neurones change before, during and after disease onset and the role of astrocytes – cells that normally perform a supportive role for neurons – in contributing to these changes and neuronal death in MND. Identifying these pathways could lead to a novel treatment avenue.
Your support will help bring Prof Yerbury and his team at IHMRI closer to their goal of finding a clinically-tested treatment for MND.
Our track record
Prof Yerbury was awarded the Betty Laidlaw MND Research Prize at the 13th MND Australia Research Conference in Sydney in 2017. The $250,000 prize is awarded by the Motor Neurone Disease Institute of Australia to fund a project that aims to advance the understanding of the disease and has potential for effective treatments.
Melbourne cycling organisation Ladies Back On Your Bike have dedicated more than $16,000 in funds raised in their 2018 Challenge ride to Prof Yerbury’s research.
In 2018, Professor Gordon Wallace, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromagnetic Electromaterials Science at UOW, celebrated his 60th birthday and asked his friends to donate to Prof Yerbury’s MND research in lieu of presents. The birthday party raised more than $10,000.
In May 2019, Prof Yerbury’s highly-anticipated UOW Knowledge Series Lecture spurred further support, while $17,000 was raised during a Wollongong trivia night in late 2019. And proving every dollar counts, an 11-year-old girl held a pot-plant sale, raising $1,000 to support his research efforts.
We will learn more about what triggers MND in patients to ultimately slow motor neurone loss with a new treatment. The research at IHMRI will be used to develop new drugs and expand on the years of hard work by Prof Yerbury.