In the past 15 years, I have seen MND move from a scientific ‘backwater’ to the forefront of neurodegenerative disease research. It is noticeable these days how often MND is mentioned in the same sentence as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease – both far more common conditions – which reflects how awareness of MND has grown.
When giving talks on MND research, I often include this graph, which shows the number of scientific and medical research papers on MND since the 1940s. For decades, there was very little activity, but in recent years we have seen an almost exponential rise in research activity. This means more is being discovered about the disease, but it also shows that more and more people around the world are tackling the problem of understanding, treating and – ultimately – defeating this disease.
With the recent discoveries of new causes of familial MND and the development of new and more representative laboratory models, the line on this graph is going to continue to rise. With it, we will see a greater proportion of researchers moving from the question “What is going on in MND that causes the neurones to die?” to “We think we know what’s going on – now how do we stop it from happening?”
Cause for optimism indeed!
As you’ve seen over the past week and a half, each person in the research development team at the MND Association is an incurable optimist and all for different reasons. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our reasons, and we look forward to seeing yours on Patrick’s blogsite.
Please show your support to our new incurable optimism campaign.