£1million awarded to drive promising MND research
The Motor Neurone Disease Association, LifeArc and My Name'5 Doddie Foundation have jointly awarded £1million to researchers at University College London to progress two cutting-edge therapies for motor neurone disease (MND).
The research grants are the first to be awarded as part of the £1.5 million joint Motor Neuron Disease Translational Fund, which was kickstarted by the MND Association in 2021 following patron Kevin Sinfield's extraordinary 7 in 7 Challenge.
The two projects are aiming to develop innovative gene and cell therapies for MND.
The first project, led by Professor Pietro Fratta of UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, and Dr Loic Roux of Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA), aims to develop a cutting-edge gene therapy to slow down, stop or reverse disease progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common type of MND.
The second project, led by Dr Barney Bryson and Professor Linda Greensmith of UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, aims to develop an innovative treatment that has the potential to restore lost muscle function and prevent further muscle wastage in all MND patients. Their unique therapeutic strategy involves injecting human stem cells into affected muscles to replace the lost motor neurones, with the potential to restore the controlled function of paralysed muscles.
Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research at the MND Association said:
"People with MND and their families consistently tell us that investing in research is their top priority, so we’re delighted to be able to channel funds from our supporters directly into these two exciting projects. The MND Association supported the initial scientific studies in the labs of Professor Fratta and Dr Bryson which have led to these new awards, and we are thrilled to see their discoveries being applied to new, potential approaches to treatment. Our hope is that through collaboration, continuing public support and investing into cutting-edge therapies we will find solutions to unpick the complex nature of MND and lead to an effective treatment."
Dr Catriona Crombie, who heads up LifeArc's Philanthropic Fund said:
"Recent advances in understanding the biology of MND are providing exciting new opportunities to develop effective new treatments. Both of these exciting translational research projects have set out a clear path to reaching the later stages of the drug development process – offering the hope of effective new therapies for patients affected by this devastating condition and their families."