SA grandmother part of world-first trial for rare, incurable disease

SA grandmother part of world-first trial for rare, incurable disease

A brave South Australian woman with a rare and incurable disease has become one of the first in the world to take part in a trial that could revolutionise its treatment.

Katrina Jensen, 68, was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) in December and told she would only have a few years left to live.

The disease attacks the body’s nervous system and leads to trouble moving, talking, swallowing and eventually breathing.

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It affects about 2100 Australians, according to MND Australia.

Jensen said the hardest part of the disease was organising herself in the meantime so she wouldn’t “end up in a heap at the bottom of the stairs”.

“I cried a lot. You know this is the end of your life coming up,” she exclusively told 9News.

The grandmother, however, has decided to trial new pills designed to fix broken links between neurons and restore communication channels in the brain.

The treatment is hoped to stop symptoms and possibly repair damage to movement and speech.

“This is a unique treatment, which has the potential to restore some of those lost connections that disappear when you have MND,” Dr David Schultz said.

“Patients take a pill once a day, and they continue to do that for the 12 months of the trial.”

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Jensen is one of 24 patients who have signed up for the trial that is rolling out in hospitals in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.

“It’s really interesting to do … and it could have a good outcome,” Jensen said.

“If successful, there’s hope the drug could also help patients with other conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Schizophrenia.

“If it does work, it’s going to be flaming brilliant.”

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