Inside the lab: fighting the beast

Nº 1 – Where our work begins

Neale Daniher has been battling what he calls ‘the beast’, motor neurone disease, for almost four years, and is the driving force behind the FightMND Foundation.

Following the ‘call to arms’ for people living with MND to donate skin cells, Neale was the first to volunteer at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem. Neale is one of many people from Victoria and around Australia who have come to Melbourne to donate cells at Calvary Healthcare. The cells are transported to the Florey’s MND laboratory, run by Associate Professor Brad Turner, where our work begins

Nº 2 – A renewed hope for a treatment

A renewed hope for a treatment Dr Christopher Bye and his team produce motor neurones from patient skin cells, like Neale’s. The search for treatments has been limited in the past because we could not model the most common form of MND in the laboratory. The development of stem cell technologies now allows us to test drugs directly on individual patients’ motor neurones. This new generation of research offers renewed hope for a treatment.

Nº 3 – The robot is fast tracking our search

Thanks to the support of FightMND, the Victorian Government and Nick Baldi Constructions, drug screening is now conducted in a state-of-theart facility, including a $1 million automated liquid handling robot. We have always tested a range of existing drugs, hoping they may slow down the disease’s progress. The robot is fast tracking our search. Instead of testing a few drugs in a week, we can now test hundreds per week. Every drug tested is one step closer to a treatment for individual patients.

Nº 4 – Evaluating the effect of different drugs

Once the robot has treated the patient’s motor neurones, a high capacity fluorescent microscope images the neurones to evaluate the effect of the different drugs being trialled to keep patient’s motor neurones alive.

Nº 5 – A promising lead…

When a drug is deemed to be a promising lead, Chris will then test it in pre-clinical MND models to validate its therapeutic actions, before progressing to human clinical trials. Drugs already in MND clinical trials include a copper-binding drug and anti-retroviral drug similar to drugs already used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus. The Florey’s new high throughput drug screening platform will dramatically fast-track the progression of new treatments from the lab bench into the clinic.