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Harnessing the power of stem cells to unlock the secrets of motor neuron disease
Date:5/23/2010

The Motor Neurone Disease Association is funding its first ever stem cell research programme to help unlock the secrets of this fatal, neurological condition.

Pulling together world-class expertise from four leading researchers: Prof Siddharthan Chandran and Prof Sir Ian Wilmut from the University of Edinburgh; Prof Christopher Shaw from King's College London and Prof Tom Maniatis of Columbia University New York; the Association's groundbreaking programme will enable scientists, to perform detailed studies on human motor neurons containing known causes of motor neuron disease (MND).

The ability to grow and programme human motor neurons in the laboratory has been a holy grail for MND researchers for many years. Recent advances in stem cell research mean it is now possible to generate human motor neurons from donor skin cells in order to study the processes at work in health and disease.

MND kills five people everyday in the UK. Life expectancy for those with MND is short - around two to five years and around half of those diagnosed with MND die within 14 months. This cruel condition leaves people trapped in a failing body unable to walk, talk or feed themselves. There is no cure and no effective treatment. The cause of the disease is only known in 5% of all cases. Therefore the need to unlock the secrets of this devastating disease and progress research is imperative.

Dr Brian Dickie, director of research development at the MND Association, says: "The technology is now available to allow us to build upon the recent, important discoveries made by researchers around the world. We have started to make real progress in understanding the causes of motor neuron disease and further investigation is needed to maximise the potential of stem cells to find effective treatments and we hope eventually a cure.

"This international MND Association research programme will allow scientists to perform detailed studies on human motor ne
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Contact: Louise Coxon
louise.coxon@mndassociation.org
44-776-076-5142
University of Edinburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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