Groundbreaking Motor Neurone Disease (MND) discoveries have been made, thanks to your support.
Neurocare contributed more than £70,000 to the research project ‘OmniLog’, which has discovered findings that may shed the light on new life extending strategies for MND patients, who typically receive a life expectancy of two years post diagnosis.
MND describes a group of diseases that affect the nerves (motor neurones) in the brain and spinal cord that tell the muscles what to do. With MND, messages from these nerves gradually stop reaching the muscles, leading them to weaken, stiffen and waste. It affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time.
But scientists from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) – Dr Scott Allen, Dr Laura Ferraiuolo and Professor Dame Pamela Shaw – have been studying the differences between brain cells of those with MND and those without, focussing on special cells that normally work to support motor neurons.
Researchers have found that in people with MND the cells that support the body’s motor neurons are not as good at producing energy because they have lower levels of a key enzyme.
If the cells have reduced energy then they cannot support the motor neurons to function as they are supposed to.
This key enzyme is also thought to be responsible for producing a chemical called Inosine which helps to protect the motor neurons – a link that hasn’t been made before.
We are really excited about this set of results as no one has made this connection before…
This discovery has led Dr Allen to experiment with increasing both the key enzyme and the chemical inosine in the cells and has had positive results, leading him to believe that this combination has the potential to slow down the progression of the MND disease.
Dr Allen said “We are really excited about this set of results as no one has made this connection before.
“Although we are at an early stage, we think increasing the key enzyme and inosine levels, has the potential to slow down disease progression in MND patients. But a lot of further testing in the laboratory has to be performed.”
MND can affect how a patient walks, talks, eats, drinks and breathes. Some people also experience changes to their thinking and behaviour. However, MND affects everyone differently. Not all symptoms will affect everyone, or in the same order. Symptoms also progress at varying speeds, which makes the course of the disease difficult to predict.
MND is life-shortening and there is no cure. Although the disease will progress, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life.