Joint fund to accelerate search for motor neurone disease treatments

Medical research charity LifeArc and the MND Association have established a £1 million joint translational research fund to support researchers developing treatments for Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Despite recent advances, there is still no effective clinical treatment for MND. Each organisation is contributing £500,000 to the fund.

Researchers from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland can seek grants of up to £500,000 for translational research projects focused on developing new therapies or repurposing existing treatments for MND. Although the research must be UK or Ireland-led, applications from teams working with international partners will be considered.

Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development at the MND Association, said: “Our understanding of the causes of this devastating degenerative condition has improved dramatically over the last two decades, but clinicians are still unable to offer their patients any truly effective treatments. These advances have driven MND to the forefront of neurological disease research and we want to capitalise on that momentum. The research we are seeking to fund will build on that enhanced basic scientific understanding to develop potential therapies. That is how we can begin to offer real hope to people with the condition and their families.”

Dr Catriona Crombie, Head of LifeArc’s Philanthropic Fund, said: “The fund will plug the gap between fundamental research into MND disease mechanisms and possible treatment options reflecting advances in our understanding of those mechanisms. This is about stimulating the search for effective treatments: now that scientists understand the mechanisms of the disease, they can build on that knowledge to identify and eventually test potential practical treatment approaches.”

The fund will therefore support teams that are working on developing candidate therapeutic entities (e.g. small molecule drugs, antibody drugs or gene therapies), pre-clinical testing of novel therapeutics in vitro or in vivo, pre-clinical validation for existing therapeutics that could be repurposed for MND, early-phase clinical trials (phase I/II) of novel therapeutic compounds, and early-phase clinical trials of existing therapeutics repurposed for MND.

Researchers interested in applying for funding can register to join an online webinar by 11am on May 24, 2021.

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