An early career researcher focusing on precision therapies for motor neurone disease has received a $100,000 grant from MND Research Australia.
Rita Mejzini, a PhD candidate at Murdoch University and the Perron Institute, is the Principal Investigator for a project aiming to develop molecular genetic therapeutics to tackle this devastating and currently incurable neurodegenerative disorder.
Her supervisor, Professor Anthony Akkari, heads the Motor Neurone Disease Genetics and Therapeutics Research group at the Perron Institute and the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics at Murdoch University.
The Daniel McLoone Research Grant will support a project titled: Development of RNA-like precision therapies to reduce toxic MND protein in the neuron.
Mutations which can occur in the FUS (fused in sarcoma) gene contribute to motor neurone disease cases, including early onset and juvenile forms. Everyone has two copies of this gene, and if only one copy carries a mutation, MND can result.
The team has begun developing innovative therapeutics that target only the mutant copy of the FUS gene, stopping the production of toxic protein and allowing the unaffected copy to fulfil its functions.
“I am passionate about our research project because it has the potential to lead to improved therapies for MND patients and for people with other dominant genetic diseases.”
Professor Akkari said: “I feel privileged and am grateful to secure further funding for a complex area of investigation.
“Our main goal is to expedite the development of much-needed therapeutics for cruel diseases such as MND.”
MND Research Australia approved a total of $2,994,675 in grants across twenty-one projects commencing in 2023.