There is a critical need to find a biomarker for MND to speed up diagnosis, monitor disease progression and improve clinical trials. A biomarker is a biological change that can be detected in a person to signal that they have MND, and that can be measured over time to monitor how the disease is progressing.
Previous research has suggested micro RNAs (miRNAs) present in the blood might be a biomarker for MND. miRNAs are short forms of RNA, the cell’s copy of our genetic material DNA. They are stable in the blood, can be easily measured with a blood test, and evidence suggests that they are linked to MND progression. To put it simply, if the biomarker hunt was a music festival, miRNAs would be a headlining act that a lot of people are excited about!
Using state-of-the-art technology, a team including prestigious MND researchers Prof Linda Greensmith, Prof Elizabeth Fisher and Dr Andrea Malaspina, and miRNA biology expert Prof Eran Hornstein, will fully investigate the potential of miRNAs as a biomarker for MND. This project, which is based at University College London (our reference: 839-791) is running over three years at a cost of £229,328.
The team will observe changes in miRNA in a large set of already collected patient samples and also in mouse models of MND, to see if miRNA changes are linked to disease progression. The team will also test a drug that has been shown to normalise miRNA levels as a possible new therapy for MND. This project therefore has the potential to provide us with both an urgently-needed biomarker and a possible new therapy route for MND.
For more information on funding research involving animals please see our website: www.mndassociation.org/animalresearch
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.