New £4.25 million grant kick starts UK-wide collaborative research effort to end motor neuron disease

A £4.25 million research grant has been awarded seeks to discover meaningful MND treatments within years.

Degradation of motor neurons, conceptual 3D illustration. Motor neuron diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressive bulbar palsy and other

A group of charities and government research organisations has awarded £4.25 million to MND experts at six UK universities to kick start collaborative efforts to end motor neuron disease (MND).

This new ‘MND Collaborative Partnership’ brings together people living with MND, charities LifeArc, MND Association, MND Scotland and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, government bodies Medical Research Council (MRC) and UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), with researchers from King’s College London, University of Sheffield, University of Liverpool, University College London, University of Oxford and University of Edinburgh, all UK. The partnership team will work together to find solutions to address problems currently hindering MND research and seeks to discover meaningful treatments within years, not decades.

Members of this new UK-wide MND research partnership will work together and pool their expertise over 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 detailed, high-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.

They will also launch a major new study involving 1,000 people with MND from across the UK to better understand disease progression and how people respond to new and existing treatments.

MND (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain and spinal cord. People progressively lose nearly all voluntary movement and need complex care, and around half of those diagnosed die within two years. Six people are diagnosed with MND every day in the UK and the condition affects around 330,000 across the world. One person in every 300 will develop MND. The only licensed drug for MND in the UK has a modest effect on extending life – but no treatments are available that can substantially modify disease or cure the condition.

UK Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Motor neuron 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.”