Listening to ARMI researcher Dr Alasdair Wood present at IMPACT7 2018 was both interesting and inspiring. Alasdair is in the unique business of building muscle for muscular dystrophy (MD) patients to improve their quality of life. Making small improvements to MD patients’ muscles can have a significant impact on quality of life, just ask Mr Boris Struk, Executive Director of Muscular Dystrophy Australia – “MD patients want to complete everyday tasks that you and I take for granted, like picking up the remote control or taking a sip of coffee.” Boris is familiar with these challenges not only through leading MD Australia but also as a father to someone affected by MD.
The worldwide population of those affected by MD is estimated to be around a quarter of a million people. In global terms, these diseases are rare, but that does not make them any less devastating for a child who cannot kick a ball around with their friends, or a parent who loses their child in their teens.
Leveraging his muscle physiology expertise, Alasdair co-founded MyoFab along with Professor Peter Currie, also from ARMI and Dr Jessica Firth and Professor Laurence Meagher, both from the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering. MyoFab is a personalised service for people with muscle wasting conditions. “What we want to achieve with MyoFab is to use advanced manufacturing to fabricate genetically corrected healthy muscle for those affected by MD.” Alasdair explained that MyoFab will use advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and electro-spinning to build genetically corrected healthy muscle for anyone who requires new synthesised muscle. He commented that “gene editing technologies lie on the horizon and it is likely MD will be genetically correctable. However, people with these conditions will be left with muscle that is unable to regenerate. These patients will need new muscle that will be lab-generated so they can regain full function of their muscles”.
Alasdair shared his vision for MyoFab and the MD community to an audience of 300+ fellow scientists and innovators, members of industry, investors and business leaders at CSIRO’s pitching event IMPACT7 earlier this month. “While we as researchers need to continue to produce high-quality science, a scientific publication is only the beginning when it comes to creating patient solutions”. Now in its second year, IMPACT7 brings together presenters from all walks of life in the innovation sector to share with the wider community how global challenges are being tackled. “For me, IMPACT7 was the perfect platform to gauge the innovation community’s interest in MyoFab,” said Alasdair. The event provided an opportunity for scientists, like Alasdair, to connect with those who can help them fulfill the potential of their research by providing investment, distribution, amplification or collaboration.
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Dr Alasdair Wood is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Currie Group. For more information on the Currie Group, click here. For more information on MyoFab, contact Dr Alasdair Wood via Alasdair.Wood@monash.edu. You can also follow Alasdair on Twitter via @alasdaiw24.