Motor Neuron Disease Award funded by Michael Rogers Stirling Estate
A new hypothesis of Motoneuron Disease: astrocytes are the non-neuronal neighbours inducing motoneuron injury.
Professor Philip M Beart
Brain Injury & Repair, Howard Florey Institute and University of Melbourne
Co-Investigators: Dr Julie Atkin and Dr Ross O’Shea
Motor Neurone Disease is a neurodegenerative condition, progressing to paralysis in 1-5 years, and killing 100,000 every year world-wide. We seek to understand its pathogenesis by investigating the underlying mechanisms, which involve different neighbouring cells contributing to the injury of motoneurons. Ongoing work from our laboratory reveals that a population of glial cells, astrocytes, which are intimately associated with motoneurons, profoundly affect their function and existence. We believe that changes to the chemistry and shape of astrocytes initiate a neurotoxic milieu, and that dissection of their roles will provide new clues for management of Motor Neurone Disease.