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Motor neurone disease: progress and challenges

Dharmadasa, T., Henderson, R.D., Talman, P.S., Macdonell, R.A., Mathers, S., Schultz, D.W., Needham, M., Zoing, M., Vucic, S. and Kiernan, M.C. (2017) Motor neurone disease: progress and challenges. Medical Journal of Australia, 206 (8). pp. 357-362.


Major progress has been made over the past decade in the understanding of motor neurone disease (MND), changing the landscape of this complex disease. Through identifying positive prognostic factors, new evidence-based standards of care have been established that improve patient survival, reduce burden of disease for patients and their carers, and enhance quality of life. These factors include early management of respiratory dysfunction with non-invasive ventilation, maintenance of weight and nutritional status, as well as instigation of a multidisciplinary team including neurologists, general practitioners and allied health professionals. Advances in technology have enhanced our understanding of the genetic architecture of MND considerably, with implications for patients, their families and clinicians. Recognition of extra-motor involvement, particularly cognitive dysfunction, has identified a spectrum of disease from MND through to frontotemporal dementia. Although riluzole remains the only disease-modifying medication available in clinical practice in Australia, several new therapies are undergoing clinical trials nationally and globally, representing a shift in treatment paradigms. Successful translation of this clinical research through growth in community funding, awareness and national MND research organisations has laid the foundation for closing the research-practice gap on this debilitating disease. In this review, we highlight these recent developments, which have transformed treatment, augmented novel therapeutic platforms, and established a nexus between research and the MND community. This era of change is of significant relevance to both specialists and general practitioners who remain integral to the care of patients with MND.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Australasian Medical Publishing Company
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