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.
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.