Investigating MND related genetic changes in the nervous system that occur before the start of MND symptoms.

Dr Alex Thompson

Principal Investigator: Dr Alexander Thompson

Lead Institution: University of Oxford

MND Association Funding: £200,000* 

Funding dates: April 2020 - April 2025

*Supported by the The Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowship Programme and the Freshfield Foundation

About the project

The project will use disease models and post mortem tissue to study the genetic alterations that predispose people to MND in the years before symptoms begin (presymptomatic). By measuring the levels of thousands of proteins in cerebrospinal fluid – the fluid closest to the cells affected by MND – Dr Thompson aims to detect MND-related changes occurring in the nervous system long before the start of MND symptoms. This will hopefully shed light on the mechanisms that lead to the development of MND, paving the way for new therapies, and develop ways of predicting when MND will begin in order to allow earlier treatment of MND – even before symptoms develop. Although the study focuses on gene carriers, its findings are likely to be applicable to sporadic MND.

What could this mean for MND research?

We know that MND is a complex disease, so any further understanding of the mechanism of MND will help in the development of new drug therapies. This project specifically looks at the mechanisms that lead to the development of MND. Understanding these mechanisms could help to develop ways of predicting when MND will begin. This would mean that people who have a predisposition to MND, through genetic changes, could be monitored to see when MND will begin and then be provided with treatment before symptoms develop.

Project code: 952 - 795

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