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MOTOR NEURON DISEASE


MAIN FEATURES OF THE DISEASE


Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive fatal disorder of the brain and spinal cord in which the nerve cells controlling muscles degenerate. This leads to increasing weakness and eventually paralysis of all voluntary muscles. MND affects one in every 300 people, and most patients are dead within three years of diagnosis. Death is usually due to paralysis of the muscles used in breathing. Currently there is no cure, although we (in conjunction with colleagues in Paris) have been instrumental in developing the first drug (Riluzole; trade name Rilutek) shown to slow the progression of the disease. A number of other drugs are under trial, and the King’s MND Care and Research Centre has taken a leading role in the development of these.


CAUSE


The cause of MND is unknown. However, in rare inherited cases, gene defects have been identified, providing important new clues relevant to the 95% of cases that are not inherited.


Professor Chris Shaw, Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi, Professor Chris Miller, Dr Jean-Marc Gallo, Emeritus Professor Nigel Leigh, and many other colleagues within the Medical Research Council Centre for Neurodegeneration Research based at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, are applying this new knowledge to understand why nerve cells die and how we might modify the processes that lead to motor nerve cell damage and death.


One of the foremost goals of the MRC Centre for Neurodegeneration Research and of the MND Research Group within it is to ‘translate’ basic laboratory science into therapies. Our research group comprises clinicians and laboratory scientists who share their experience and expertise to ensure that all the research undertaken is as relevant as possible to people affected by MND. In all aspects of our research we collaborate and co-operate with the Motor Neurone Disease Association, with patient support groups internationally such as the American ALS Association, and with leading scientists throughout the world.


CURRENT RESEARCH

Our current research focuses on:


Some examples of important research findings from our team over the last years are as follows :


It is important that we build upon our current strengths in multidisciplinary research so that we can move from ‘molecule to man’ and find effective treatments, but at the same time never forgetting our goal of improving the day-to-day lot of people affected by this cruel disease.


Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi
Director, King’s MND Care and Research Centre
2011

Charity No 284286



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