Towards a world free from Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

The Ngo Group, led by Group Leader Dr Shyuan Ngo, is interested in understanding how metabolic homeostasis at the systemic and cellular level can impact upon neurodegenerative processes. The Metabolic Exploration in Neurodegenerative Disease (MEND) research program centres on Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a fatal neurological condition in which the average life expectancy is 27 months following diagnosis. In MND, the irreversible degeneration of neurones in the central nervous system leads to progressive paralysis and eventually death. There is no effective treatment for MND, and hence no cure.

The Group works very closely with people who are living with MND, their families, caregivers and friends. The patient-directed research is based at clinical sites around Brisbane. The Group is assessing body composition and metabolic rate, as well as dietary intake, appetite regulation, and gut dynamics to understand the impact of altered whole body metabolism and human physiology on the clinical features of disease and patient outcome.

The Group is also using mouse models of MND, and human myosatellite cell-derived muscle fibres and human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurones to not only understand the mechanistic nature of MND, but to also conduct pre-clinical testing of potential therapeutic compounds. The combined use of mouse and human-derived models are integral to the goal of translating research findings into clinical trials for MND.




Benyamin, B., He, J., Zhao, Q., Gratton, J., Garton, F., Leo, P., Liu, Z., Mangelsdorf, M., Al-Chalabi, A., Anderson, L., Butler, T., Chen, L., Chen, X-D., Cremin, K., Deng, H-W., Devine, M., Edson, J., Fifita, J., Furlong, S., Han, Y-Y., Harris, J., Henders, A., Jeffree, R., Jin, Z-B., Li, Z., Li, T., Li, M., Lin, Y., Liu, X., Marshall, M., McCann, E., Mowry, B., Ngo, S.T., Pamphlett, R., Ran, S., Reutens, D., Rowe, D.B., Sachdev, P., Shah, S., Song, S., Tan, L-J., Tang, L., van den Berg, L., van Rheenen, W., Veldink, J., Wallace, R., Wheeler, L., Williams, K., Wu, J., Wu, X., Yang, J., Yue, W., Zhang, Z-H., Zhang, D., Blair, I., Henderson, R., McCombe, P., Noakes, P., Visscher, P.M., Xu, H., Bartlett, P., Brown, M., Wray, N.R., Fan, D. 2017. Cross-ethnic meta-analyses identify a new risk locus for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nature Communications.

A2.      Ngo, S.T., Mi, J.D., Henderson, R.D., McCombe, P.A., and Steyn, F.J. 2017. Exploring Targets and Therapies for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Current Insights on Dietary Interventions. Degenerative Neurological and Neuromuscular Disease.

A3.      Ioannides, Z.A., Steyn, F.J., Henderson, R.D., McCombe, P.A., and Ngo, S.T. 2017. Predictions of resting energy expenditure in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are greatly impacted by reductions in fat free mass. Cogent Medicine. 4: 1343000.

A4.      Ioannides, Z.A., Steyn, F.J., Henderson, R.D., McCombe, P.A.*, and Ngo, S.T.* 2017. Anthropometric measures are not accurate predictors of fat mass in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration. 10.1080/21678421.2017.1317811


Carrasco-Pozo, C., Tan, K-N., Reyes-Fairias, M., de la Jara, N., Ngo, S.T., Garcia, D., Llanos, P., and Borges, K. 2016. The deleterious effect of cholesterol and protection by quercetin on mitochondrial bioenergetics of pancreatic β-cells, glycemic control and inflammation: in vitro and in vivo studies. Redox Biology. 26 (9): 229-243.

Tefera, T., Wong, Y., Ngo, S.T., Thomas, N., McDonald, T., and Borges, K. 2016. Triheptanoin Protects Motor Neurons and Delays the Onset of Motor Symptoms in a Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Plos One. 11 (8): e0161816.

Fogarty, M.J., Klenowski, P.M., Lee, J.D., Drieberg-Thompson, J.R., Bartlett, S.E., Ngo, S.T., Hilliard, M.A., Bellingham, M.C., and Noakes, P.G. 2016. Cortical synaptic and dendritic spine abnormalities in a presymptomatic TDP-43 model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Scientific Reports. 6:37968.

Li, R., Steyn, F.J., Stout, M.B., Lee, K., Cully, T.R., Calderon, J.C., and Ngo, S.T. 2016.
Development of a high-throughput method for real-time assessment of cellular metabolism in intact long skeletal muscle fibre bundles.
The Journal of Physiology. doi: 10.1113/JP272988.
URL: Li et al, 2016

Ioannides, Z.A. Ngo, S.T., Henderson, R.D., McCombe, P.A., and Steyn, F.J. 2016.
Altered metabolic homeostasis in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Mechanisms of energy imbalance and contribution to disease progression.
Neurodegenerative Diseases. 16 (5-6):382-397.
URL: Ioannides et al, 2016 


Ngo, S.T., and Steyn, F.J. 2015.
The interplay between metabolic homeostasis and neurodegeneration: insights into the neurometabolic nature of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Cell Regen (Lond). 4 (1): 5.
URL: Ngo and Steyn 2015 

Ngo, S.T., Steyn, F.J., Huang, L., Mantovani, S., Pfluger, C., Woodruff, T.M., O'Sullivan, J.D., Henderson, R.D., and McCombe, P.A. 2015.
Altered expression of metabolic proteins and adipokines in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 357 (1-2): 22-27.
URL: Ngo et al, 2015 

Palamiuc, L., Schlagowski, A., Ngo, S.T., Vernay, A., Grosch, S., Henriques, A., Boutillier, A-L., Zoll, J., Echaniz-Laguna, A., Loeffler, J-P., and René, F. 2015.
A metabolic switch towards lipid use in glycolytic muscle is an early pathologic event in a mouse model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
EMBO Molecular Medicine. 7: 524-46.
URL: Palamuic et al, 2015 


Ngo, S.T., Steyn, F.J., and McCombe, P.A. 2014.
Gender differences in autoimmune disease.
Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. 35 (3): 347-369.
URL: Ngo et al, 2014 

Ngo, S.T. Steyn, F.J., and McCombe, P.A. 2014.
Body mass index and dietary intervention: implications for prognosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 340 (1-2): 5-12.
URL: Ngo et al, 2014 


Steyn, F.J., Lee, K., Fogarty, M.J., Veldhuis, J.D., McCombe, P.A., Bellingham, M.C., Ngo, S.T., and Chen, C. 2013.
Growth hormone secretion is correlated with neuromuscular innervation rather than motor neuron number in early-symptomatic male Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis mice.
Endocrinology. 154 (12): 4695-4706.
URL: Steyn et al, 2013 


Ngo, S.T., Cole, R.N., Sunn, N., Phillips, W.D., and Noakes, P.G. 2012. Neuregulin-1 potentiates agrin-induced acetylcholine receptor clustering via muscle specific kinase phosphorylation. Journal of Cell Science. 125 (Pt 6): 1531-1543.

Steyn, F.J., Ngo, S.T., Lee, J.D., Leong, J.W., Buckley, A.J., Veldhuis, J.D., McCombe, P.A., Chen, C., and Bellingham, M.C. 2012.
Impairments to the GH-IGF1 axis in hSOD1G93A mice give insight into possible mechanisms of GH dysregulation in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Endocrinology. 153 (8): 3735-3746.
URL: Steyn et al, 2012 

Ngo, S.T., Baumann, F., Ridall, P.G., Pettitt, A.N., Henderson, R.D., Bellingham, M.C., and McCombe, P.A. 2012.
The relationship between Bayesian motor unit number estimation and histological measurements of motor neurons in wild-type and SOD1G93A mice.
Clinical Neurophysiology. 123 (10): 2080-91.

URL: Ngo et al, 2012 



As scientists, we are obligated to share our research discoveries and to contribute to the communities we serve. Those who form part of our MEND research program are actively involved in events that are aimed at raising funding and awareness for MND. We work closely with the MND and Me Foundation and with the State MND Associations that form part of MND Australia. We are passionate about our community, and we are proud and humbled to serve the wider MND community.