On the twelfth day of Christmas MND research gave to me: twelve – a low number of authors on a research paper

The final day of our ‘twelve days of Christmas’ blogs has arrived. We hope you’ve enjoyed our festive overview of 2014 and we look forward to sharing many more research updates throughout 2015!

 “On the twelfth day of Christmas MND research gives to you… TWELVE – a relatively small number of authors for an MND research paper, the TUBA4A paper had 68!”

Dr Bradley Smith, King's College London

Dr Bradley Smith, King’s College London

Gone are the days where there are only three authors on a research paper, especially in genetics! Gene hunting requires a lot of researchers to process and understand a whole lot of data. For instance, the information contained from one human genome is 100Gb of data, that’s equivalent to 102,400 photos!

Now… Project MinE is sequencing at least 15,000 MND genomes! When this research is completed, and the work gets published, it’s going to be a very long list of authors!

Click here to read more about the inherited MND gene, TUBA4A, which was identified in 2014 by 68 MND researchers!

On the eleventh day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Eleven BRAP members

 “On the eleventh day of Christmas MND research gives to you… ELEVEN members on our Biomedical Research Advisory Panel”

Glitterball

Glitterball

Thanks to a record-breaking MND research grants round of over 40 applications from researchers around the world, we’ve got a busy year ahead! We’ll be reviewing all of these applications and deciding which should be funded to help us achieve our vision of a world free from MND.

We are currently preparing for our Biomedical Research Advisory Panel (BRAP) meeting in April. This panel of MND research experts, along with Association trustees, discusses each application in detail. They then decide whether the research is good enough to be funded by the Association and fits within our research strategy.

Our panel are a bit like the ‘strictly come dancing’ judging panel, all with their own personalities and interests, judging which MND research application is the best and deserves to go on to be funded!

Click here to find out more about the BRAP panel

On the tenth day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Ten research studies we helped promote in 2014

“On the tenth day of Christmas MND research gives to you… TEN research studies we helped promote and recruit for in 2014”

IMG_2041Last year we helped promote and recruit people living with MND to take part in 10 different studies.

From biomarker studies, to survey’s on the risks v benefits of new medicines, we covered a number of different opportunities for people living with MND to get involved in research!

The TONiC study and the ALS biomarker study are still recruiting and tissue donation is open all year round! To stay up to date on the latest opportunities to get involved in research you can visit our website or subscribe to our research specific newsletter.

Alternatively, if you are living with MND you can join our MND Research list. Should a research opportunity become available in your area we will then contact you with details, including how to take part. Find out more.

On the ninth day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Nine Ice Bucket Challenge Researchers

“On the ninth day of Christmas MND research gives to you… NINE MND researchers doing the ice bucket challenge!”

Looking back on 2014, what were your highlights? Well, during the International Symposium on ALS/MND it’s a bit of a tradition to recap on the biomedical and clinical highlights of the event.

Prof Ludo Van Den Bosch provided the biomedical highlights during the 25th International symposium last month, and when asked what he’d remember from 2014 he said: “The Ice bucket Challenge of course!”

So, we present to you our top nine MND researcher ice bucket challenge videos!

ibc oxford

Continue reading

On the eighth day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Eight members of the Research Development team

“On the eighth day of Christmas MND research gives to you… EIGHT members of the Research Development team”

We would like to wish all our blog readers Happy New Year! Looking forward, like many others, we have made our New Year’s resolutions of what we’d like to achieve in 2015:

L-R: Sadie, Belinda, Pauline, Lucy, Samantha, Natasha, Laura Front: Brian

L-R: Sadie, Belinda, Pauline, Lucy, Samantha, Natasha, Laura
Front: Brian

Brian Dickie (Director of Research Development): “I’m looking forward to developing closer relationships with other funding agencies, to look at research opportunities that we may not be able to do on our own. We expect researchers around the world to work together, so their ‘joined up thinking’ should be supported by our ‘joined up funding’.” Continue reading

On the seventh day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Seven research strategy themes

“On the seventh day of Christmas MND research gives to you… our SEVEN research strategy themes”

It’s New Year’s eve, a time to look back and celebrate on 2014 and our MND research achievements. It’s also a time to look to the future; in 2015 we will be funding new MND research in line with our research strategy.

Our 2010-2015 research strategy focuses on seven key themes.

causes1) Identifying the causes of MND

The exact cause of the majority of cases of MND is still unknown. Therefore identifying the causes is our first step in understanding MND and developing future treatments.

In 2014 we identified two new inherited MND genes and also announced funding for the UK Whole Genome Sequencing project to better identify the rarer genetic factors involved in causing the disease. Read more.

models2) Create and validate new models

Once we identify a genetic cause of MND, we need to find out how this gene causes MND. Animal and cellular models help us to find out how the gene affects the motor neurones and how this causes disease in a complex animal system. Continue reading

On the sixth day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Blog a Day 2014

“On the sixth day of Christmas MND research gives to you… on the SIXTH month of 2014 we wrote a Blog a Day, and you can still read them all online today.”

Stem cell-derived human motor neurones are being used by researchers to understand more about MND (image courtesy of Dr Scaber, University of Oxford)

Stem cell-derived human motor neurones are being used by researchers to understand more about MND (image courtesy of Dr Scaber, University of Oxford)

The sixth month of the year is June, which is also MND Awareness month. During 2014 we brought you a blog a day (sometimes two) during the month of June,

Ranging from research updates to experiences of getting involved in research, we covered the variety of research funded by the Association and the work of the Research Development team.

Dr Jakub Scaber’s blog post on stem cells was the top-rated blog post of the month, with an impressive image of stem cell-derived motor neurones.

Click here to read all the Blog a Day posts

On the fourth day of Christmas MND research gave to me: a new stem cell research project

“On the fourth day of Christmas MND research gives to you… on the FOURTH month of 2014, we announced that we’ll fund an exciting new stem cell project”

Prof Linda Greensmith, University College London

Prof Linda Greensmith, University College London

During our April Biomedical Research Advisory Panel Meeting we agreed to fund seven new MND research projects. These projects included Prof Linda Greensmith’s research on Restoring muscle function with transplanted stem-cell derived motor neurones.

Based at University College London, this study will use stem cell technology to restore muscle function in a mouse model of MND. The researchers will transplant stem-cell derived motor neurones and then guide them to where they’re needed using light.

Prof Greensmith and her team aim to restore function to the muscles that are responsible for breathing and develop an optical stimulator, which can then be implanted into the body to stimulate the transplanted cells for long periods of time. If successful, this technique could form the basis of future treatments that could potentially restore muscle function in MND.

Click here to read more about the research that lead to us funding this project

On the third day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Three days of the symposium

“On the third day of Christmas MND research gives to you… THREE days of the 25th International symposium on ALS/MND”

Brussels 2014From 5 – 7 December 2014 the Association held its annual research conference, the 25th International Symposium on ALS/MND. This year, the event was held in Brussels, where just shy of 900 researchers attended to hear the latest MND research news, form new collaborations and hear about the latest developments in care practice.

The three days of the symposium brought you news of a potential new biomarker for MND, the Sheffield Support Snood, induced pluripotent stem cell technology and the latest developments on assistive technology. We brought you 12 LIVE reports from the event, translating the science and highlighting what it means to people living with MND.

Click here to read all our LIVE reports from the symposium

On the second day of Christmas MND research gave to me: Two new inherited MND genes

Boxing day is here, there’s still some leftover turkey but let’s not forget… it’s the second day of Christmas!

“On the second day of Christmas MND research gives to you… TWO new inherited MND genes”

dna2014 saw the discovery of two inherited MND genes, the first being MATR3 in March and the second being TUBA4A in October. We will be discussing TUBA4A in a later blog post, but for now, here’s what we know about MATR3:

The MATR3 inherited MND gene discovery has provided us with further evidence that abnormal RNA processing is involved in MND.

The MATR3 protein, which is produced from the MATR3 gene, is commonly found in the nucleus or ‘control centre’ of the cell and is involved in the processing of RNA (the cell’s copy of DNA that is responsible for making new proteins). RNA processing has been previously associated with other inherited MND gene mutations (eg TARDBP and FUS). The MATR3 mutation also affects this process, adding more evidence to the role of abnormal RNA processing in MND.

Click here to read more about MATR3 here