Research using animals has led to a greater understanding of MND. Because of the complexity of MND, at the moment animal models are still one of the most powerful tools used to help us understand, prevent and one day cure MND. Many of the achievements that stem from research funded by the MND Association, and by other organisations worldwide, would not have been possible without animal research. Even so, a great deal of our research is carried out without involving animals.

Why do we need animal research?

Sometimes researchers need to study the biology of MND in a whole body, or look at how the disease progresses in different forms of MND. Researchers study MND in animals as they can be good models for how the disease behaves in humans. Modelling MND in animals may, for example, help us unravel the genetics behind certain conditions because we have many of the same genes. We share 80% of our genes with mice, 70% with zebrafish and even fruit flies have 60% of the same genes as us.

This may help us understand the reasons why the disease is triggered, ways in which symptoms can be managed or progression slowed, and help develop potential therapies. With continued research using animals we can expect further progress in the treatment of many major diseases, including MND.

The MND Association funds research that will lead to new understanding and treatments, bring us closer to a cure for MND and only uses animals where there is no appropriate alternative method. Approximately 35% of the research we fund involves animals. If we include fruit flies, for which a licence is not required, the figure rises to around 50%.