|Dr Mastura Monif (left) and A/Prof David Wright|
Dr Monif's research project is titled, The contribution of monocytes and P2X7 Receptor in MS relapse. The grant amount is $45,906 plus GST.
A/Prof Wright's research project is titled, Is the brain’s waste clearance system impaired in motor neuron disease? The grant amount is $46,000 plus GST.
Dr Monif explained that MS is a chronic neurological condition and the relapsing remitting form of MS is associated with 'relapses' or 'flares' of disease. She said, "In this study supported by BGRF we will examine the cellular and molecular profile at the time of MS relapse versus remission.
"Our research will help identify particular biomarkers of MS relapse. The findings can be used in the development of diagnostic tools, as well as future development of pharmacological compounds as a treatment for MS relapse."
A/Prof Wright said that one of the hallmarks of neurodegenerative disease is the accumulation of aggregated toxic proteins. "These toxic waste proteins are removed from the brain by the glymphatic system, a waste clearance system for the brain that is largely disengaged during wakefulness and highly active during sleep," he said.
Recent evidence suggests that impairment of the glymphatic system may cause toxic proteins to build up in the brain, increasing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including motor neuron disease (MND).
A/Prof Wright said, "As sleep disturbances are exceedingly common in MND, we hypothesise that glymphatic function is also impaired and that this contributes to the build-up of toxic waste in the brains of MND patients."
In a world first, this innovative study will employ cutting-edge brain imaging to non-invasively assess glymphatic clearance in an experimental model of MND.
A/Prof Wright said, "We expect to show that the glymphatic system is indeed impaired and relate this back to disease symptoms. In doing so we will show that the glymphatic system is a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of MND and other neurodegenerative diseases characterised by the accumulation of toxic waste proteins."
Julienne Lewis, the BGRF CEO, wrote regarding both projects that they were "considered outstanding", particularly in light of the fact that "the Foundation received a record number of applications for funding in 2021, more than double any previous year", so the researchers could be particularly proud of their achievement. Both grants are for a 12 month period.