Australian researchers are optimistic that a new copper capsule may offer Motor Neurone Disease sufferers hope for a cure.
The drug, CuATSM, was trialled on 32 patients in Melbourne and Sydney over 15 years, and appeared to slow the progression of MND by 70 per cent.
It is based on the theory that a decrease of copper in the brain may be a factor in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases
A new copper drug by Australian researchers has been found to slow the progression of MND
‘Copper is just part of the drug,’ Professor Ashley Bush, director of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health told The Daily Mail.
‘We are working out what the mechanism is now, but the possibilities include delivering a safe amount of copper to where it is needed in the tissue, as well as, mopping up damage to the membranes of neurons, or both.’
The breakthrough is particularly exciting as it is the first of its kind which appears to slow the progression of the disease, rather than just treat the symptoms.
‘For a disease that is considered irreversible it was remarkable,’ said Professor Bush.
‘The approach is to try to stop the disease, rather than provide symptomatic benefit.’
Professor Ashley Bush is optimistic the findings could pave the way for a cure for MND
The study was conducted by researchers from the Florey Institute, the University of Melbourne and the Bio21 Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology.
Findings were presented at at the International Symposium on ALS/MND in Glasgow, Scotland, with a second phase trial scheduled for the second half of 2019.
‘Our first study of the drug (which is also currently being tested on patients with Parkinson’s disease) was encouraging’, said Professor Bush.
‘The plan is to take the next step towards a definitive result, which might take two years to complete.’
Research was partly funded by AFL legend Neale Daniher’s Fight MND Foundation, which contributed $500,000 to the stage 1 trial.
The former Essendon player was himself diagnosed with MND in 2013, and has since used his platform to raise funds and awareness of the disease.
MND sufferer and AFL legend Neale Daniher (right) contributed funds towards the research