Researchers looking into a cure and effective treatments for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) will be the beneficiaries of a new grant, the result of a truck restored and raffled off by Australia’s largest trucking insurer National Transport Insurance (NTI). 

Doctors Shyuan Ngo and Frederik Steyn from The University of Queensland (UQ) are among those applying to the MND Research Institute of Australia for a share of $200,000 to help fund research into treatment options for MND, a condition that claims two Australian lives every day. 

Dr Shu Ngo said: “The research we do into MND is really focussed on trying to understand how the body responds to the disease and what we might be able to do to slow the progression of the disease for people who are diagnosed.” 

The grant came from a national fundraising push in April where Australians could purchase tickets in a raffle for “Roxanne”, a 1946 Ford Jailbar truck which took hundreds of hours to restore. 

“A lot of the money fundraised by NTI for MND research will be used in the lab to, for example, grow stem cells into neurones that look like the ones in the brain and spinal cord so that we can study why they might be dying in those people living with Motor Neurone Disease,” she said. 

Research partner and husband Frederik Steyn said the grant has already impacted those living with the disease. 

“This particular kind of contribution has a big impact, even before the money is spent on research. The awareness that comes from this creates a lot of hope. So, five, ten years ago when you were diagnosed with MND, it was a very difficult diagnosis to process, as little could be done to help people with MND. MND is still a terrible diagnosis, but now, when people join research, they leave the clinic with more hope. That’s uplifting,” Dr Steyn said. 

“The money that NTI is donating is going to go to a broader, national call for research into Motor Neurone Disease so it benefits any study throughout Australia, not just studies at The University of Queensland.” 

NTI supports research into MND as a legacy to the company’s late CEO, Wayne Patterson, who was diagnosed in 2015 and later lost his battle with MND. 

“At NTI, we decided we should match what was raised through the raffle and that took the grant from $100,000 to over $200,000. We were delighted to do that to support a great cause and that support is ongoing – next year we plan to restore another truck to raise funds,” NTI’s CEO Tony Clark said. 

MND and Me Foundation CEO Paul Olds said the only way there would ever be an end to MND is through research. 

“MND takes too many people, too many fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and at the moment the life expectancy from diagnosis is two and a half years. The thing we all hope for is a cure, but until one is found it would be sensational to have something that pushes that life expectancy out to 10, 15, 20 years.”