Working towards a world free of MND

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Over the last few days and weeks the money being raised for the MND ice bucket challenge has risen unexpectedly and astonishingly. As a scientist, this is exciting for me because I see the possibilities of what we can achieve with the extra funds.

It’s so important people know that their contributions make a real difference and below are some of the ways they can help.

Making difficult decisions easier

Understanding and improving the way symptoms of MND are managed is perhaps not the first thing you think of when you think of MND research. But when MND takes away a person’s ability to feed themselves, and then to swallow, it takes away a significant chunk of quality of life. Currently we’re funding a study to understand when is the best time to receive a feeding tube, and which is the best way of inserting it, in order to reduce the impact of this significant stage of MND’s progression. Find out more about other healthcare research underway.

Testing every pill in the cabinet

Many drug companies around the world have half-developed drugs sitting on chemical storage shelves, known as libraries. They were abandoned as they didn’t work for their area of interest or the company’s priorities changed, but some might have a beneficial effect on a different condition.

Zebrafish at the University of Sheffield being used to test MND drugs (courtesy of Natalie Rounding)

An MND Association project in Sheffield is testing a set of these chemicals as possible drugs in zebrafish with MND. Partnerships with other medical charities and government funding organisations that will help us to be smarter at gaining benefits from these drug libraries are in the planning.

People are the future

It costs approximately £85 – 95k to fund an MND Association PhD studentship. At the beginning of October, a set of scientists in their 20s will begin their MND research careers. In Manchester, a student will start to understand more about the changes in behaviour some people with MND develop. In Brighton Matt Gabel is already re-analysing brain scans collected in the past for new patterns that might help us to understand more about the way MND progresses.

Individually these are small steps but collectively they help us to move forward in understanding MND so that we can move closer to a cure and to our vision: a world free from MND.

To find out more please visit our Research we fund pages of the MND Association website, or keep checking back on this blog for more updates in the coming months.

6 thoughts on “Working towards a world free of MND

  1. Is there any research you know of looking at diet? I saw this research and it struck a personal chord My mother died from MND. Her mother had MS

    1. Hi Tabitha,

      In response to your comment, there has been a great deal of research looking into diet and the risk of MND. Research last year indicated that a certain omega-3 fatty acid actually accelerated disease progression in the SOD1 form of MND(read more here).

      You can find out more about the causes of MND, including what we know about diet and MND, on our website:

      Alternatively, if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us on 01604 611 880 or

      Kind regards,
      Samantha Price, PhD
      Research Information Co-ordinator
      MND Association, UK

      1. Thank you Samantha. I’m interested if your happy to share what your thoughts are in the research I linked to? Many thanks Tabitha.

      2. Hi Tabitha,

        The research you linked to was published back in 2006 and relates to a high fat, high calorie diet (known as a ketogenic diet) in animal models of MND with the SOD1 form of the disease. This research has shown that this type of diet alters progression of MND but this type of research would need to be completed by means of a controlled clinical trial in humans to find out if it alters progression in people living with MND or not. To date this research has not been completed and we can only conclude that a ketogenic diet seems to alter the progression of MND in mice with the SOD1 form of the disease.

        I hope that my thoughts and interpretation of the research is helpful and if you have any further questions please not hesitate to contact me on 01604 611 880 or via

        Kind regards,
        Samantha Price, PhD
        Research Information Co-ordinator
        MND Association, UK

  2. Thank you Belinda.
    It is reassuring that so much research is under way to help find a solution the BEAST called MND.
    It wont happen in my lifetime, but some day, thousands of people won’t have to be told of the BEAST they have within. A sincere, and a “BIG THANKYOU” to you and your colleagues for you research work.
    Keith Wagstaff

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