The WA Neuroscience Research Institute has expanded its focus on Alzheimer’s research through a new fellowship awarded to Dr Rakesh Veedu and funded by the McCusker Charitable Foundation.

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s is forecast to significantly increase over coming decades, with some estimates suggesting that as many as one million Australians may suffer from Alzheimer’s by 2050. The institute is building additional research capacity to help respond to this growing neurological need.

Dr Rakesh Veedu began his five year McCusker Research Fellowship in January at the Centre for Comparative Genomics within Murdoch University. His research is focused on contributing to new treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases by developing novel compounds, called smart oligonucleotides.
Dr Veedu said “The major goal of modern healthcare research is to develop low-cost technologies that specifically target the underlying disease pathology within the body and have high therapeutic efficacy, with no toxicity and side effects.”

“My research aims to do just that, and I hope to collaborate with others to develop smarter approaches for detecting Alzheimer’s disease and to support new or improved therapies for neuromuscular diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s.”

The Centre for Comparative Genomics where Dr Veedu is based has been highly recognised for its pioneering work on exon skipping (using antisense oligonucleotides) as a potential treatment for those with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Dr Veedu hopes that his work will contribute to this field of research, led by the Perron Institute Director Steve Wilton and his colleague Professor Sue Fletcher, by further improving the target specificity and efficacy of antisense oligonucleotides.

Dr Veedu’s McCusker Research Fellowship in Neurogenetics is funded by a special grant from the McCusker Charitable Foundation, providing an opportunity for an outstanding early career researcher to undertake independent neurogenetics research in an area of his or her own choosing.

In providing funding for the fellowship, Tonya McCusker from the McCusker Charitable Foundation said “We are delighted to support the ground breaking work of the Perron Institute and the talented young Western Australian scientists who are unlocking genetic secrets and consequently, reducing the pain and anguish of those suffering from neurological illness.”

Pictured: Dr Rakesh-Veedu