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Racing for a cure for Friedreich ataxia

Institute News
Published: 
Friday, March 13, 2015 - 10:00am
Porsche Centre Melbourne is using the popularity of motorsport to raise awareness for the Institute’s research into Friedreich ataxia.

For Porsche Centre Melbourne’s motorsport division, being first to the chequered flag is the primary goal- one it has achieved more than any other team over the past four seasons. Though another, newer goal has also developed importance for the Porsche Carrera Cup team- to raise awareness for Friedreich ataxia, a little known nervous system condition that affects approximately one in 30,000 people.

So what is Friedreich ataxia?

Friedreich ataxia is a rare inherited disease of the nervous system characterised by the gradual loss of balance, coordination and muscular control. The affected person is unable to control their muscles, which leads to tremors, an unsteady gait and slurred speech. There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed with medication and physical therapy. Friedreich ataxia occurs because a person inherits a double dose of a faulty gene. The parents generally don’t have Friedreich ataxia because they have one faulty gene and one healthy copy. Where both parents are healthy carriers of a single, faulty gene, there is a one in four chance that an individual will have the condition.

For Porsche Centre Melbourne’s racing team, the goal is to support the world-leading research of Professor Martin Delatycki and Dr Louise Corben from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute. Martin and Louise are crucial to us understanding more about this rare condition, conducting world-leading studies of the effects of Friedreich ataxia and developing potential treatments including gene therapies, physical therapy and drug trials.

The racing team are doing their part, along with their current motorsport partners Wilson Security, Bonaire and Jet Travel Insurance, by using the popularity of motorsport to raise awareness through race car signage, something the team will continue through 2015.

The Institute would like to thank the wonderful people at Porsche Centre Melbourne for their support.

Researchers