“Buying Hope” for South Australians with MND

Posted 18 Mar 2021

Research and clinical trials exploring new treatments for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) will soon be underway at Flinders Medical Centre with the appointment of a new MND Fellow.

Established in memory of Dr Julie Lawrence – the first woman plastic surgeon in South Australia – who passed away from MND in 2019, the fellowship will support Dr Kate Johnson to care for people and their families living with MND and progress research at South Australia’s sole MND clinic.

Julie’s husband Steve and brother Graham made this fellowship possible, donating to the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia (MNDSA) who have partnered with Flinders Foundation and the Flinders Medical Centre Clinician’s Special Purpose Fund.

“MND is a real bummer of a disease because it feels like there’s no hope. But, the thing is, we can buy some hope,” Steve Meldrum says.

“I know for this amount of money we might not be able to find a cure, but hopefully this can go some way to helping to prolong life, or at least give back a little bit of hope to people with MND – because that’s so important.”

Dr Johnson will oversee an interstate clinical trial in South Australia in the coming months, investigating the effectiveness of a drug used to treat HIV in halting the progression of MND.

“Other research at Flinders involves looking at genes in the blood of people with MND, compared with people without the disease, to identify any particular links to MND,” Dr Johnson says.

“This could help us better understand MND and why it occurs, so that further down the line it might lead to tests or treatments that could be useful.

“MND is such a devastating disease, where unfortunately at the moment we can’t do as much about it as we would like,” Dr Johnson says.

“But it’s really important to be there for people with MND when they’re diagnosed and support them to really maximise their quality of life, while also focusing on research to provide hope for people in future who might be diagnosed with the disease.”

Karen Percival, Chief Executive Officer of MNDSA said the organisation was pleased to be able to support research into MND with the support of Julie’s family and Flinders Foundation.

 “MNDSA have always supported research but to have this significant donation allowing us to facilitate a research fellow right here in South Australia will give our clients an opportunity to be involved in clinical trials in our own state,” Karen said.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Motor Neurone Disease research.


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