UK MND research institute sees promising trial results

A UK motor neurone disease research institute opened two months ago after a Sunday Express campaign has already seen thrilling trial results as it painstakingly hunts a cure.

The MND Research Institute, a network of research centres across the UK overseen by King’s College London, was only opened last November following the successful campaign to urge the government to pump £50m into beating the cruel condition.

Six people are diagnosed and six people die from the disease every day in the UK, yet there is only one licensed drug for MND in this country, which has only modest effects.

Now the new Institute allows doctors, clinicians, scientists and people living with MND, together with charities and other funders, to work together to speed up drug discovery and drug development.

And co-director Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi, from King’s College London, has told the Daily Express their team are already excited by their groundbreaking work just two months in.

Prof Al-Chalabi explained: “The Institute has three main aims: to understand what causes MND, to develop effective new treatments and then to test those new treatments thoroughly.”

“And in just two months the Institute is working just as we dreamed it would. Normally we would have one clinical trial in operation but here we currently have six. It’s very exciting and positive.”

The Institute also boasts a ‘world first’ medical system to speedily, mass-test the effectiveness of trial treatments called EXPERTS-ALS.

The fast track system sees the trial drugs tested straight on MND patients without the use of placebos or preliminary animal testing.

It enables the team to test drugs rapidly for their potential to slow the progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – the commonest form of motor neurone disease.

The scientists can test patients’ blood for their neurofilament levels and see instantly which experimental treatments are working – so the team can focus on the successful drugs.

They are also able to take patients’ skin cells, transform them into nerve cells and then use them for scientific study.

Prof Al-Chalabi added: “We have gone from having only one potential treatment to now being able to stop the disease progressing in some patients.”

“Having multiple trials on at once enables us to try lots of different approaches to treatment and increase our chances of success.”

“The Institute enables us to link all the scientists, researchers, and science together to achieve better outcomes.”

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