A biomarker, or biological marker, is a substance used as an indicator of a biological state. It is a characteristic that can be objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of specific processes.

While most people use yeast to make bread or beer, researchers have been busy in Chicago, USA using yeast to fight MND. They have found that the MND gene FUS behaves similarly in yeast as it does in motor neurones. They propose that yeast may be a good model for studying MND.

It is becoming clear that a precise measure of MND disease progression is urgently required. Many research groups around the world have joined the search for the optimal biomarker.

Despite the continuing and growing efforts of researchers around the world an effective treatment for motor neurone disease still eludes us. This problem is currently compounded by the lengthy diagnostic process associated with MND.

Information for MND Association members

Dexpramipexole

Dexpramipexole (formally known as KNS-760704) is a newly synthesised drug created by Knopp Neuroscience Inc. Although it is not currently known how this drug works in the body, laboratory studies have demonstrated that this drug has neuroprotective properties. A phase II trial of KNS-760704, completed in 2009, found that the drug was safe and well tolerated by people with MND for up to 9 months. The trial results also showed trends suggesting the drug's potential for reducing the rate of decline in patients' functional capability, although the relatively small numbers of people involved in the study means that these findings cannot be relied upon.

During 2011 recruitment commenced for a phase three study of the drug dexpramipexole at 61 study locations in the United States, Europe and Australia. Recruitment has now closed. The purpose of this study is to determine whether dexpramipexole (150 mg twice daily) is safe and effective in the treatment of ALS/MND.

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