The race to find answers to the enigma that surrounds neurodegenerative diseases (ND) has challenged the best scientific minds around the world for decades with close to non-progress. Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is the most debilitating among the ND’s as the patient’s physical condition degenerates whilst mental capacity remains the same. Statistics for our country are alarming. Every day 2 Australian’s are diagnosed with MND and 2 more pass away from it. Imagine how frightening and frustrating would be to become a prisoner in your own body and know that modern medicine cannot help.
So how is the research traditionally done and why hasn’t come forward to a solution yet? Current studies are based on DNA analysis only. At IGO we believe in visualizing a holistic view of MND that will help trace a better path towards diagnosis and future treatments. For this, we take into account 3 things, we look at each individual patient’s genome (DNA), their microbiome (the gut) and spinal fluid in precise detail to search for the cause of the underlying issues around ND’s, which gives us a snapshot of events occurring in blood and brain. We believe that looking at this interplay between the gut microbiome, immune system and the brain will not only allow a better understanding of the disease, but will also allow the birth of novel strategies for treatments that are currently unavailable to patients.
Firstly, we are thrilled to announce there are some strong hypotheses emerging from the data that we have been processing. The main one is based around a ‘convergence hypothesis’. Each individual has unique traits (genes) that control the disease, and small molecules (microRNA) that regulates the disease. Despite the differences in microRNAs between patients, we have found that they converge on the functions relevant to neurodegenerative diseases, including MND. This blueprint is ‘drawn up’ by a small specific group of microRNA’s will be an invaluable asset. Sounds good but, what are miRNA’s?
Think of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) as the book of instructions of your body, RNA (Ribonucleic acid) as a photocopy of that original book and miRNA’s (micro ribonucleic acid) as a paper destroyer machine that runs into RNA and say: hold on, this photocopy shouldn’t be here, and destroys it.
Secondly, we are currently building the world’s first correlative micorRNA database that covers all neurodegenerative diseases. This will help other companies develop more precise miRNA based therapeutics in the future.
Thirdly, we have preliminary finding relating to microbiome (the gut bacteria studied in fecal samples). We have analysed and sequenced the microbiome from a number of samples. We are also looking to see how faecal microbiome relates to other entities such as the genome and RNA. This is a very complex piece of data integration that we hope will gives us new information. In addition, after having tested microbiome from patients we are starting to learn more about how the gut microbiome behaves. Further study and analysis is needed, but it is hoped that in the future we may be able to learn more about the relationships between the gut microbiome and certain diseases.
Keep tuned for more updates!