Developing models to test new treatments for MND

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Developing disease models is important for furthering our understanding of MND and allows researchers to screen potential new drugs for a beneficial effect. Moving a promising ‘nearly drug’ from the lab to being tested in people is known as ‘translational research’.

Dr Richard Mead
Dr Richard Mead

Dr Richard Mead was awarded the Kenneth Snowman/MND Association Lectureship in Translational Neuroscience in May 2014. The Lectureship is part funded by the MND Association (our reference 983-797).

We have recently received a progress report from Dr Mead. Its clear that his background and experience in this area – including several years working in the pharmaceutical industry – has helped him to rapidly develop a portfolio of projects and collaborations with academic and industry partners.

One of Dr Mead’s areas of research is to find drugs that target a sequence of proteins called ‘Nrf2-ARE’. A target is a precise chemical or protein that’s not working as it should, where researchers can then develop drugs to correct it. He has set up a collaboration with industry using chemicals they have that may hit this Nrf2-ARE target.

In another approach a PhD student in Dr Mead’s lab is working in collaboration with medicinal chemists at the University of Sheffield. Together they have begun to begin designing new drugs by modelling them on computers in the lab – so called ‘in silico modelling’.

Throughout June 2016 MND Awareness Month will be highlighting the rapid progression of the disease in its powerful Shortened Stories campaign, sharing the experiences of people currently living with MND, or who have lost loved ones to the disease, through art, poetry and film.