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Motor Neurone Disease: Research

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 126801, tabled on 8 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support research on motor neurone disease.

Answered on

14 December 2020

In 2019/20, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through the Medical Research Council (MRC), spent around £13.4 million on Motor Neurone Disease (MND) research. This included research which aims to increase our understanding of the causes and genetic mechanisms of MND and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) a form of MND. Over 5 years (2015/16 - 2019/20) MRC expenditure relevant to MND and ALS totalled £45 million.

In addition, UKRI, through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, supports a diverse portfolio of neuroscience research and innovation totalling around £30 million per annum. This work may underpin MND research by furthering current understanding of: the structure and function of the nervous system; cell biology and genetics; mental processes including learning and memory, and neurodegeneration as a result of normal ageing. Their portfolio of funded research also includes awards seeking to understand the biology of neuromuscular systems and motor control which has underpinning relevance to MND has an average annual spend of £1.2 million.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) funds research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It is not usual practice to ring-fence funding for particular topics or conditions. The NIHR welcomes funding on applications for research into any aspect of human health, including MND. Applications are subject to peer review and judged on open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money, and scientific quality.

Over the past five years, DHSC has spent over £9 million on MND research through NIHR programmes and infrastructure. In 2018-19 alone, the NIHR invested £2.2 million in MND research through the NIHR research programmes and the NIHR Clinical Research Network. Additionally, the NIHR research infrastructure supported 73 research studies and trials on MND in 2018-19.

Furthermore, you be interested to hear about the NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre which has a research theme dedicated to MND. Further information on the AMBRoSIA study can be found at:http://sheffieldbrc.nihr.ac.uk/research-themes/motor-neurone-disease/.

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