International AlS/MND symposium a success

The Perron Institute was proud to be involved in the 30th International Symposium on ALS/MND, the world’s largest international symposium on motor neurone disease (MND) held in Perth this month.

At the first ‘research conference’ in 1982, 40 researchers met to discuss their work. This year, over 850 delegates from 40 countries attended the symposium organised by the MND Association UK and co-hosted by MND Australia and the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Western Australia (MNDAWA).

The symposium, held annually, is the largest medical and scientific conference specific to motor neurone disease and the premier event on the MND calendar worldwide for discussion of latest advances in research and clinical management of this devastating neurodegenerative disorder.

It brought together researchers, clinicians, health professionals, MND associations and people living with MND. The goal is fostering strong collaboration between leading researchers around the world and sharing new understanding of the disease as rapidly as possible.

There were two parallel meetings, one on biomedical research and the other on advances in the care and management of people affected MND. Joint sessions considered issues of mutual concern, challenging current views and practices. There were 110 talks and 420 scientific posters were on display.

Supportive and palliative care for MND is an expanding area and a relatively recent addition to the institute, complementing the MND research and clinics being conducted. Professor Samar Aoun (pictured top middle), Professor of Palliative Care at the Perron Institute and La Trobe University was on the program committee, a plenary speaker and is also the President of MNDAWA. Professor Aoun’s keynote presentation was titled: ‘Supporting MND family carers from diagnosis to bereavement: The palliative approach to care’, and her second presentation in a concurrent session was ‘Breaking the news of the MND diagnosis: The gap between standards and actual practice’.

Identifying genetic mechanisms and developing targeted therapeutics is a major research stream for the Perron Institute. Postdoctoral researchers Drs Loren Flynn, Ianthe Pitout and Abigail Pfaff, and PhD student Leanne Jiang provided poster presentations, and Dr Flynn was shortlisted for a poster prize. PhD students Julia Pytte (pictured middle right) and Frankie Theunissen (pictured middle left) of the Motor Neurone Disease Genetics and Therapeutics laboratory research group at the institute provided platform presentations.

National and international plenary speakers and institute collaborators included Professor Luc Deliens from the End of Life Research Group in Belgium and Professor Brad Turner from the Florey Institute in Melbourne.

Perron Institute clinical research coordinators Claire Tucak and Borrelli (pictured bottom) presented an update on ALS/MND trials at the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations’ 17th Allied Professionals Forum held a day before the symposium.

A highlight of the symposium took place on the first evening when 500 people participated in the first international Global Walk to D’Feet MND along the Swan River shoreline at sunset.