22 February 2019

How our quokkas are helping a young American walk again

The West Australian newspaper online reports on a special Rottnest Island visit where Billy Ellsworth, an 18yo walking talking miracle, and the man who made it possible due to the quokka; Professor Byron Kakulas, Perron Institute Founding Director.

“Billy Ellsworth is not just another American taking a quokka selfie.

The 18-year-old man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has the animal — and a team of WA scientists and researchers — to thank for his ability to walk when statistics would have had him wheelchair bound at 11 years old.

Instead, he spent yesterday standing upright and touring the State’s iconic Rottnest Island, connecting with the marsupial that first gave hope to boys like him with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in the 1960s.

Then, WA Professor Byron Kakulas discovered quokkas’ muscles could regenerate when administered Vitamin E, suggesting the same result could be achieved in humans with muscular dystrophy.

His visit coincides with the opening of a new medical research centre in Perth today lead by the internationally-recognised scientist Professor Steve Wilton, partially behind the development of the drug eteplirsen used to treat Mr Ellsworth — and close to 1000 other males with his condition.

The centre, spearheaded by Murdoch University and the Perron Institute, will develop innovative treatments for serious health conditions such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and blood disorders.”

Continue reading the full West Australian newspaper article here

Perron Institute | Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Research
West Australian quokka Billy Ellsworth Rottnest 22 Feb 2019 article