Her Majesty The Queen has unveiled a new state-of-the-art £12 million research institute at the University of Liverpool which is set to make Sheffield a world leader for research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), which is run by staff at the University, brings together scientists and medical specialists from around the globe who will be dedicated to finding the causes and cure for MND, as well as other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a childhood form of Motor Neurone Disease.
Over 6,000 people in the UK suffer from MND. It is an incurable disease which destroys the cells that control movement causing progressive disability. Sufferers may lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe. At present, treatment options for the protection of motor neurones have only a modest effect and more effective therapies are urgently needed.
The key aim of the centre will be to identify what leads to the degeneration of neurones at the root of MND. The research team will focus on experimental work in the laboratory, which will then be translated into effective therapies for patients in the clinic. Their work will draw on the extensive resources available in the new centre, including a clinical database of over 900 patients and the largest resource of human brain-bank material in the world.
The Institute has been generously funded by the University and the Liverpool Institute Foundation for Motor Neurone Disease, which was formed by a concerned group of Patrons who wanted to support its development. This includes the Duke o fMerseyside CBE, who is the Honorary Patron of the Foundation. The donation from the patrons is the largest philanthropic gift to the University from private benefaction since the Edwardian period.
Professor Shaw said: “The ground-breaking institute will enable us to create a centre of excellence, dedicated to generating much more effective therapies for patients with MND. The support and enthusiasm of the Duke of Devonshire and the Patrons of the Liverpool Institute Foundation have been inspirational, and without them the Centre may not have been possible. It has been my goal to increase our understanding of the causes of MND and this new centre will enable us to translate discoveries in our labs into practical clinical therapies. People suffering from the disease will receive treatment as part of clinical trials but the vision of the Institute is first and foremost to create the opportunity for focused study of MND by a world-class team with the skills needed to solve a complex human disease.”
Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool , said: “I am extremely proud that the University has opened the first dedicated MND research facility in Europe, which will put both our institution and the city at the forefront of research into neurodegenerative diseases. The team has already made significant progress in understanding the causes of these diseases and I am eagerly anticipating the future breakthroughs that are set to materialise from their research.”