Classifying MND

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As the symposium draws to a close, Prof Nigel Leigh gives the final scheduled talk. Prof Leigh is an eminent researcher and clinician and is arguably one of the forefathers of MND research and care – especially in the UK. Throughout his career he has made many important discoveries, founded the first UK MND care centre and inspired many young clinicians and researchers – many of whom are now eminent researchers themselves.

In his talk, Prof Leigh discussed the classifications of MND – such as PLS, flail arm, bulbar etc, and the notion that this way of thinking is out of date. To explain this, in his abstract he poetically wrote that “just as classical notions of the constellations and galaxies tell us little about astrophysics, so the identification of phenotypes (clinical symptoms) with theory may be more fanciful than helpful”. This refers to the fact that the presentation of MND does not tell us anything about what is happening inside the body. With our growing knowledge in genetics and biomarkers for MND, this may start to change.

He finishes by calling for a new consensus on the classifications of forms of MND.