Research is vital to improving the lives of those affected by MND, and I am encouraged that almost £288 million has been spent on research into neurological conditions, including MND, in the past decade through the publicly-funded National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). With the NIHR’s annual spending on neurological conditions up by more than £22 million in that period, I remain hopeful that this funding will help researchers make breakthroughs.
I am particularly interested in research undertaken by the University of Edinburgh which identified an issue with MND patients' nerve cells, suggesting that this damage could be repaired by improving the energy levels in mitochondria. While I understand that this research is still in early stages, it is a most welcome step forward, and I will certainly follow this, and other developments related to MND, closely.
At present, early diagnosis is key to treating the symptoms of MND, and I am pleased that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new guidelines for clinicians on the assessment and management of MND, which set out the signs and symptoms of the disease, and recommend that patients suspected of having MND should be referred without delay. The Royal College of GPs and the MND Association have also worked together to produce a ‘Red Flag Tool’, which will help GPs to identify suspected cases and ensure prompt referral.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the February meeting but as a former Vice Chair of this APPG I continue to take a keen interest in the work of the group and support the MNDA.