Functionally characterising changes in ‘non-coding’ regions of DNA

To investigate 'non-coding' regions of DNA, which are stretches of DNA that don’t carry instructions to make proteins, to look for more clues into the genetic causes of MND.

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PhD Student: Calum Harvey

Principal Investigator: Dr Johnathan Cooper-Knock

Lead Institution: University of Sheffield

MND Association Funding: £81,529*

Funding dates: September 2021 - August 2024

*Supported by the Barbara Naylor Trust

About the project

Much of the understanding of the genetic causes of MND has resulted from the identification of genes that encode proteins and harbour a mutation (change in the DNA sequence). However, less work has been done to look for genetic causes in the ‘non-coding’ regions which are stretches of DNA that don’t carry instructions to make proteins for our cells but work to regulate the actions of genes. This study will analyse genetic data, collected from healthy and diseased motor neurons, to better understand the functions of non-coding DNA between different cell types. This data will be used to identify new genetic risk factors and mechanisms driving MND. Discoveries will then be used to develop cell and animal models and identify drug targets.

What does this mean for people living with MND?

Understanding more of the genetic risk factors and mechanisms driving MND will help to give a clearer understanding into why some people may be predisposed to get MND. Furthermore, it will also help in the search for new drugs to treat MND by providing new therapeutic targets.


Want to find out more about this project and researchers? Check out the resources below:


Johnathan Cooper-Knock Archives

Project code: 899-792