Motor neurone disease
Motor neurone disease is a devastating progressive disorder dominated by weakness and paralysis that results from death of the nerve cells that connect the brain, spinal cord and muscles.
For reasons that are largely unknown, these particular nerve cells — called motor neurons — die one after another, which means that bit by bit the patients lose control over their movements. This gradual decline can start almost anywhere including the limbs, swallowing and speaking muscles. Ultimately it progresses, leading to complete paralysis with involvement of the breathing muscles that is a common cause of death.
Because there are no treatments for this condition, and in general deterioration is rapid with average survival from diagnosis of only a few years, the number of prevalent cases is comparatively small. For example, there are around 400 patients living with MND in Scotland at any one time.
Work at CRM
Prof Sir Ian Wilmut and his group are developing technologies using adult cells to generate nerve cells, in order to better understand the requirements of these cells, and potentially use them for cell therapies.
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