New £1.6 million project in Sheffield to develop MND drug

Researchers in Sheffield are working on a new £1.6 million research project to support the development of a drug candidate for the treatment of motor neuron disease (MND).

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:55 pm

Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) have been awarded the grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The grant will support their partnership with Aclipse Therapeutics to advance the translational development of M102 - a drug candidate for the treatment of MND.

Principal Investigator on the project, Dr Richard Mead explains: “M102 has the potential to significantly slow down the disease progression in both familial and sporadic MND patients.”

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Sheffield University Firth Court

“The MRC grant will allow us to develop patient stratification biomarkers that will be applied in the M102 clinical studies, potentially enabling a personalised medicine approach in MND. This means that we can identify those who do and do not respond to M102 so we can target the treatment at those MND patients who are most likely to benefit. In addition, we will conduct, in collaboration with Aclipse, all the necessary development needed to reach the clinic. ”

Co-applicant on the project Dr Laura Ferraiuolo said: “This project will use a methodology developed by my lab team to allow us to identify gene signatures that can discriminate between responders and non-responders to selected drugs. Our future aim is to be able to identify the best drug for each patient, making a huge step forward in drug efficacy and patient wellbeing.”

MND - also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) - affects approximately 5,000 people in the UK and 25,000 people in the US. MND is a disorder that affects the nerves - or motor neurons - in the brain and spinal cord that form the connection between the nervous system and muscles to enable movement of the body. The messages from these nerves gradually stop reaching the muscles, leading them to weaken, stiffen and eventually waste.

Currently, there is no cure for MND and no effective treatments to halt or reverse the progression of it.