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Diagnostic test for motor neurone disease discovered

20th April 2006

The first diagnostic test for motor neurone disease has been found by Australian scientists.

Researchers from a number of institutions in Sydney claim that the test will be able to prolong lives because it will mean the end to 14 months of waiting for a diagnosis while neurologists discount other possibilities such as multiple sclerosis.

The process, known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), stimulates the brain's motor cortex with magnetic pulses in a bid to induce involuntary limb movements.

Matthew Kiernan, a neuroscientist at the Prince of Wales Hospital Medical Research Institute, explained to the Australian that people with motor neurone disease required less stimulation to induce a muscle reflex than those without the disease.

The tests were undertaken on 28 people with the disease and 26 without.

It is hoped that early diagnosis of the disease will allow treatment to begin far sooner than has previously been possible.