New research brings hope for MND patients

THERE’S hope on the horizon for motor neurone disease patients, writes Bev Creagh.

American researchers have made a key finding in understanding the complaint which until now has had no known cause or cure.

The news was ‘something we all dream about,’ according to Colin Knight, 53, (right) who was diagnosed in 2008.

The former Lealands High School pupil said: “It’s very exciting. It’s like all your birthdays coming at once.

“And whether a cure is available in my lifetime or not, at least they’re making advances.

“It’s what we all want and it seems it’s coming closer and closer. Now we’ll just have to sit and wait.”

The chartered engineer has been confined to a wheelchair for some time.

He said: “I’ve recently lost the use of my right arm.

“It still works some of the time, when I’m not tired, and I have to eat with a spoon.”

Colin, who is currently at the tale end of a clinical trial using lithium carbonate, is keen to take part in any new research.

“Hopefully they’ll start a new round of trials and I’d like to be involved,” he said.

The results were also welcomed by the chair of the Luton & South Beds Motor Neurone Disease Association, Ann Murphy, whose husband Brian died of the disease 12 years ago.

She said: “Over the past 18 months there have been a number of promising developments and now there are even more.

“We need to string them all together to make our understanding complete, so that we can indeed have ‘A world free of MND.’”

The research team was led by Professor Teepu Siddique at the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

It discovered that problems with the ‘rubbish recycling’ system in motor neurones is central to the degeneration seen with the disease.

The head of the UK’s MND research development department, Dr Belinda Cupid, described the findings as ‘a big news story for motor neurone disease research.’

She added: “The discovery of mutations in the UBQLN2 gene in families with the rare, inherited form of motor neurone disease has unlocked the significance of this damaged protein in all forms of the disease.

“We’ve know for some time that the waste and recycling system in motor neurones is damaged, but this is the first time there has been direct proof.

“This discovery provides researchers with an exciting new avenue to explore as they search for an effective treatment.

Colin was delighted to be invited to take part in the lithium trial.

He said at the time: “I’m so proud I’m doing something.

“I’m a little apprehensive because they usually use lithium for hyperactive people with mental health conditions.

“But if someone doesn’t stand up and do it, we’re never going to find a cure.

“And if this doesn’t work, we must move on to something else.

“I’ll be so excited if this provides some answers and if it doesn’t – well at least I will have tried to help.”

Herald&Post readers can go behind to read the research blog on http://mndresearch.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/new-gene-finding-suggests-recycling-is-key-to-all-forms-of-mnd/

> If you’d like to know more about the local branch of MNDA, contact Betty Jackson on 01582 613052. Or visit www.mndassociationluton.southbeds.org

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