Motor neurone disease is a fatal, rapidly progressing neurological disease. It attacks the nerves that control movement, so that muscles no longer work. Six people are diagnosed every day in the UK.
Motor neurone disease (MND) is a fatal, rapidly progressing neurological disease. It attacks the nerves that control movement (motor neurones) so that muscles no longer work.
Motor neurones control important muscle activity such as gripping, walking, speaking, swallowing and breathing. As these nerves are attacked, messages gradually stop reaching muscles. This initially leads to weakness and wasting and then, eventually, severe paralysis and breathing difficulties.
Mental abilities and senses are not usually affected and therefore patients generally remain aware of their deteriorating physical condition.
There is no cure for MND, it is always fatal, but some people live with it for many years. Professor Stephen Hawking lived with MND for more than 50 years, having been diagnosed at the age of just 21.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common type of MND and is the umbrella term used in the USA for all forms of the disease.
Six people are diagnosed with MND every day in the UK. There are around 5,000 adults with MND in the UK at any one time.
It can affect any adult at any age. Most people are diagnosed over the age of 50. Men are at higher risk than women.
A small number of sufferers (up to 10%) have a family history of MND but the disease is not thought to be familial in most cases.
Research has given us a greater understanding of MND but there is no cure, and no effective treatment. It kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis. Although the disease will progress, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life.
Motor neurone disease is a devastating condition, causing unrelenting loss of muscle function day after day. Research has given us a greater understanding of the disease and its mechanisms, but there is still no effective treatment. Much more needs to be done.
Since 1999 we have been funding the Graeme Watts Laboratory at UCL Institute of Neurology, under the leadership of Professor Linda Greensmith. Linda founded the Lab using funds left to Brain Research UK by the family of Graeme Watts, who died of MND. The Lab has grown enormously, with a team of around 20 people now working on MND and related diseases. Read about the work taking place in the Graeme Watts lab, along with other related projects, below.