How is tissue donation helping us to solve the MND puzzle?

Each year, the MND Association dedicates the month of June to raising MND awareness. This year, we focus on the eyes – in most people with MND the only part of their body they can still move and the only way left for them to communicate. Alongside the Association-wide campaign, the Research Development team selected six most-enquired about topics, which we will address through six dedicated blogs.

Last year, I wrote about our trip to a brain bank. Here, we learned about how people can arrange to donate their tissue (brain and spinal cord) to tissue banks after they die, and how it is stored and used in MND research all around the UK.

What you might be asking is: what can tissue actually tell us about MND, and how will this help us find new treatments?

To find new drugs that can beat this disease we first need to understand what is going on in the brain, which is very difficult to study in living people. This is why post-mortem tissue from people with MND is an invaluable resource. Below are four reasons why tissue donation is so important. Continue reading

Our DNA bank appeal to feature on BBC Radio 4

Sunday 8 January is not only a celebration of Prof Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday, it’s also the date when the MND Association’s DNA bank appeal will be launched on BBC Radio 4.

Our DNA bank contains over 3,400 samples from people with MND and their families.  By using these samples scientists in this country have already made significant discoveries into the causes of MND. To advance research into MND we now want to make the DNA bank available to researchers across the world. To do this, we’re asking people to donate funds to the BBC Radio 4 charity appeal for our DNA bank. All money raised through the appeal will go towards maintaining the samples and making them accessible to worldwide researchers. It will take a global research effort to beat MND, and the DNA bank is a very important tool in the fight against the disease.

Samples from the DNA bank will help scientists identify genes that cause familial (inherited) MND or those that influence susceptibility to sporadic MND. This will offer crucial insight into the causes of MND. Understanding the causes of MND will lead to the development of new treatments.

To listen to the broadcast narrated by Joss Ackland, listen in on Sunday 8 January at 7:55am or 9:26pm to BBC Radio 4. This will also be repeated on Thursday 12 January at 3:27pm, or you can listen again after the broadcast.

More information:
DNA bank samples are currently being used in a number of studies investigating the causes of familial and sporadic MND. For more information, please see the DNA bank pages of our website.

If you contributed a sample to our DNA bank, you can find out more about what happens to samples after they’re donated in our information sheet, and in our Thumb Print article from 2010.

Read our press release on this story.