Unlocking the secrets of motor neurone disease

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1. Please give a summary of your research.

We live in a time of innovation and discovery, yet some of the most critical medical frontiers remain unsolved, including our ability to treat diseases of the brain. Motor neurone disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is one such disease. MND is an unrelenting condition. As nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord die, people living with MND progressively lose control of their voluntary movement. When diagnosed, people are told that they may have 2 to 5 years to live, and that the only drug available will extend life by approximately 3 to 6 months. It is through our research that I aim to change this conversation. To treat MND, I am getting to know MND.

My research discovery grew from the MND clinics at the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital and the Wesley Hospital. Working closely with people living with MND, I have taken a holistic approach to my research. Through open discussion, people with MND are guiding innovations that will ultimately serve future patients. My research discovery centres on understanding how the body copes with the effects of MND, and how changes within the motor system of MND patients may impact their use of energy and their capacity to survive. I have discovered that in MND, the change in energy use by the body may be due to an inability for nerve cells and muscles to use energy efficiently, potentially accelerating their death. Armed with this new knowledge, I am now asking a much bigger research question; can we improve energy use in these cells to slow down, or halt MND? As part of this strategy I am now making and growing nerve and muscle cells from people with MND that will be used to trial treatments for personalised medicine in MND.

2. Please include any additional details you would like to share

To treat and cure MND, we need to work together. My team collaborates with researchers across Australia, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, China, and the USA to advance our research findings and to share knowledge and ideas. Based on my research discovery that differences in the way the body uses energy may impact survival in MND, my team is engaging with other MND clinics across the globe to turn this knowledge into a treatment. This forms part of my vision for worldwide collaboration that will see the translation of our discoveries into clinical outcomes. As our first priority, we will encourage a change in clinical practice to adopt innovative strategies that tailor clinical care and management to the metabolic needs of each patient. We have also developed the capacity to stratify patients for better directed clinical trials, using each person’s unique metabolic profile to guide treatment strategies. It is anticipated that such Smart Clinical Trials will result in the discovery of effective treatments of MND.

I am motivated to share our research discoveries and to contribute to the communities I serve. My team is actively involved in events that are aimed at raising funding and awareness for MND. We work closely with the MND and Me Foundation and with the State MND Associations that form part of MND Australia. You can find out more about me, my group and the research that we do by watching these videos:




Sonia Palomba
about 3 years ago

You have my full vote we need to fine a cure fast for MND ALS

Wiixxee Wiixxee
about 3 years ago

My vote for a cure? If only it was that easy, but if this simple gesture can help, then I'd vote a million times over!

Jennymac Jennymac
about 3 years ago

We need to find a cure for this awful thing.

MargotLee MargotLee
about 3 years ago

Go to it Shu.

Deborah Teeboon
about 3 years ago

Shu is an amazing young lady. Totally support her research.

Brad Hawkins
about 3 years ago

You are awesome Shu and we know you will find the cure for this horrible disease. ??

Renners Renners
about 3 years ago

Let's bring an end to MND! Great work Shu and team.

Gilles Guillemin
about 3 years ago

Go Shu !

NarelleF NarelleF
about 3 years ago

You're amazing Shu, please keep up your fantastic work xx

Matt Dun
about 3 years ago

Great Stuff Shu, terrible disease that needs the brightest teams to conquer it. Keep at it.

avenlee001 avenlee001
about 3 years ago

Keep chipping away! You are doing awesome research! You have my vote!

Jenny Ekberg
about 3 years ago

Keep up the fantastic work! Of course I voted for you.

Madeline Using
about 2 years ago

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zian rizky
almost 2 years ago

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Shyuan was the winner of the 2016 Queensland Women in STEM prize. She is the Scott Sullivan Motor Neurone Disease Research Fellow at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital and the University of Qu...

Round: External Judging
Category: People's Choice Award






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