THIS year marks five remarkable decades of work by Muscular Dystrophy WA.
The Nedlands-based group started when Professor Byron Kakulas and a group of parents worked with the Rotary Club of West Perth to establish a body that would fund research and support the muscular dystrophy community.
Since then, Muscular Dystrophy WA has channelled millions of dollars into social support and research.
Professor Kakulas changed history in the late 1950s when he gave vitamin E to quokkas suffering paralysis.
“A miracle happened – after a few days, these animals started to get better. If you looked at the medical literature at the time it said muscle, once degenerated from disease, had no ability to recover,” Professor Kakulas said.
In 1960, an article by Professor Kakulas created a worldwide sensation – setting a precedent that muscle degeneration could be treated.
“The implication from this discovery was that a disease like human Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy was treatable,” he said.
“With the West Perth Rotary Club we launched a massive appeal in 1969 that raised $225,000.”
Prof Kakulas established the world’s first carrier detection and genetic counselling program that lowered the incidence of new MD cases in Western Australia by more than half.
Professor Byron Kakulas has been at the forefront of muscular dystrophy research.