Macquarie University researchers say a new machine used for the first time in MND research in Australia could bring them closer to a discovery of an effective treatment for the disease. 

An innovative drug screening system could bring researchers closer in their pursuit of discovering an elusive treatment for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), which affects 1200 Australians.

ScanR, the latest high content imaging and analysis system from Olympus, has been purchased by Macquarie University MND researchers, which will slash the time it takes to perform drug testing from months to days. This will speed up the drug discovery process for screening compounds which could potentially treat and alleviate the disease.

The equipment was purchased from donations to the Macquarie University Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research and a grant from Macquarie University.  It’s understood to be the first time this Olympus drug screening system has been introduced in Australia.

The fast turnaround in screening time is crucial to the search for effective drug treatments for MND says lead researcher, Professor Julie Atkin, “This new machine will rapidly speed up our drug screening projects, reducing the time to get a result from one month to about two to three days.”

The fully automated system has a powerful microscope to view single cells and it can run multiple different tests in parallel to produce results. It also has the capacity to analyse many hundreds of thousands of cells. This not only leads to time efficiency, but also cost efficiency.

Co-researcher Dr Sonam Parakh: “Our team were having to manually count many cells and it was taking up too much of our time that could have been better used elsewhere in our work.”

This equipment also produces more accurate results when comparing treatment readouts between different compounds. The researchers believe this will speed up the difficult journey to identify potential drugs to treat MND patients.


Macquarie University


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