Six universities get £4.25m fund to tackle motor neurone disease

Six UK universities have been awarded £4.25m of funding to kickstart collaborative efforts end motor neuron disease (MND) once and for all.

The new MND Collaborative Partnership will bring together industry experts from government bodies such as the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), and the Medical Research Council, as well as charities like LigeArc, MND Association, MND Scotland, and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Dr Catriona Crombie of LifeArc, the charity which has coordinated efforts from all funders to deliver this landmark MND Collaborative Partnership, said: “Over recent years, scientists have made great progress in MND, and this has opened up several promising avenues that could ultimately make a difference to patients. But there are some barriers hindering progress.

“For the first time, the MND community – that’s patients, funders, scientists and doctors – have come together to work out the problems and plan a way forward. As funders we are really excited at what this exceptional group of people could achieve for those affected with MND.”

The universities that have been awarded the funding include King’s College London, the University of Sheffield, the University of Liverpool, University College London, the University of Oxford, and the University of Edinburgh.

The members of the new MND Collaborative Partnership will combine their expertise over the next three years to:

  • Coordinate research effort and deliver maximum impact for people with MND.
  • Develop better tests to measure MND progression and that allow doctors to compare different drugs.
  • Improve MND registers so doctors can collect good quality data about the disease, and understand which patients are most likely to respond to a particular drug and therefore recommend them for the trials most likely to benefit them.
  • Support people to take part in clinical trials more easily.
  • Develop more robust lab tests and models of disease to enable scientists to test theories about the disease and a pipeline of potential therapeutic agents that could ultimately be used as MND treatments.

A major study will also be launched by the research partnership polling 1,000, aiming to better understand disease progression and how people respond the current treatments.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “Motor neurone disease has a devastating impact on those who are diagnosed, their families and loved ones – but there is hope.

“This new partnership is a highly ambitious approach which will drive progress in MND research and, backed by £1 million of government funding, will bring the MND research community together to work on speeding up the development of new treatments.

“The collaboration across government, charities, researchers, industry and people with MND and their families will take us one step closer to one day achieving a world free from MND.”

More information about the funding can be found here.

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