Round up of news from the 22nd International Symposium on ALS/MND

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Word cloud of symposium reporting 2011
Word cloud from our symposium reporting in 2011, creating on

We organise the International Symposium on ALS/MND every year, and it is regarded as the premier medical conference on MND and a highlight of the research calendar.  In 2011, the symposium was held in Sydney Australia where 650 researchers, clinicians and healthcare professionals  from 33 countries met to discuss recent advances in MND research and care from around the world.

To give you a taste for what the symposium is all about, and tell you what the findings that were being discussed really meant, we wrote over 8,000 words in our daily articles on this blog.

Here’s a brief guide along with links for the full articles:

Rip roaring start to the symposium
Being welcomed by Glen Doyle on behalf of the Gadigal tribe of Australia was a stunning start to the symposium. This was followed by a spectacular explanation using ping pong balls and rat traps to explain how all forms of MND need a trigger.

Copying, transporting and creating proteins – what could possibly go wrong?
TDP-43, a protein which can cause MND, is normally involved in editing or reading up to one third of all proteins within the cell – now that’s a city fat cat type of job!

Mediating the delicate balance between protection and damage
The speed of progression in MND appears to be dictated by the delicate balance between protection and damage of the ‘innate’ immune cells in the nervous system. Could tilting the balance back to protection be a good therapeutic strategy?

If you were a car, would you be a Ferrari or a Focus?
People with MND may well come from among the Ferrari’s of the human race…

A quick peruse of the posters
An update on the Neuralstem stem cell clinical trial and answering whether riluzole has an effect on a drug that is currently being trialled called dexpramipexole.

Next chapter of BMAA detective story
A tale that has been woven for the past 60 years including an exotic island, bat eating natives, and how researchers are striving to work together to solve this mystery.

Beauty and the beast – when misfolded proteins cause havoc
Tale as old as time… find out how and why proteins can become disfigured into ‘beasts’ to cause MND.

The season of the gene
Researchers are beginning to look to genetics in a new way. It seems that there is a huge potential to make discoveries and connections a lot faster.

Windows to the brain
Brain scanning technology reveals that people with MND have different levels of brain activity than those without the disease. This study demonstrates another step forward toward a clinical test for MND.

Clinical trials low down, down under
Recent clinical trial findings were discussed including the Dutch lithium trial, memantine trial, Nogo-A (GSK) trial and biomarker findings from the first phase of the NP001 trial.

Changing fashions of MND models
Stem cells are not the panacea of models, they’re an arrow in a quiver of techniques…

The 23rd International Symposium on ALS/MND will be held in Chicago, USA on 5-7 December 2012.

The MND Association’s vision is a world free from MND. Realising this vision means investing more in research, further developing partnerships with the research community, funding bodies and industry, while ensuring that advances in understanding and treating MND are communicated as quickly and effectively as possible. Our Research Development team, composed of 11 members, work hard to achieve this. Principally, the Research Information team within this are involved in communication activities including this MND Research blog.

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