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TEAM Spencer- Muscular Dystrophy Western Australia PhD Scholarship for SMA Research

The  TEAM Spencer- Muscular Dystrophy Western Australia PhD Scholarship for SMA Research would not be possible without the fundraising efforts of TEAM Spencer founders Rick and Ruth Steven, so ably and selflessly assisted by AME Offshore Solutions.  The fundraising group TEAM Spencer was created by Rick and Ruth Steven, in honour of their son, Spencer who was born in March 2006 with SMA and who died just seven months later.  Since then TEAM Spencer have dedicated themselves to doing ‘Whatever it takes’ to find a cure for SMA.

In April 2012, the first TEAM Spencer- Muscular Dystrophy Western Australia PhD Scholarship for SMA Research was awarded to UWA PhD student Loren Price.  Loren, is based at the Centre for Comparative genomics at Murdoch university and has recently summited her thesis “Applications of antisense oligonucleotides (AO) in splice intervention for treating inherited diseases” for review. Loren’s project has looked at using antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) targeting exon 7 of the SMA causing Survival motor neuron gene (SMN2). By binding AOs to particular motifs of the gene message, it can prevent exon 7 being excluded from the transcript, and therefore produce increased levels of functional.

It is pleasing to know that following the research developments and investigation undertaken by Loren Price, this investigation has been expanded and continued at CCG and 2016 MDWA extended our support through a second scholarship to Ianthe Pitout. Iantha continues the investigation of the application of antisense oligomers to modifiers of the Survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2) gene in order to reduce the severity of Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

2015 also saw the provision of a second TEAM Spencer-Muscular Dystrophy Western Australia PhD Scholarship for SMA Research to Dr Adelaide Withers, a Paediatric Respiratory and Sleep Physician at Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr Withers research at Curtin University and thought the Telethon kids institute aims to identify and accurately predict the onset of hypoventilation through the development of effective clinical predictors of the disease progression and in particular respiratory dysfunction.

Please direct any enquiries to research@mdwa.org.au

Team Spencer Correct edited by UniPrint