Doddie Foundation Gives £500,000 to Support UK Research Fund

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by Vanda Pinto |

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Research fund for MND and ALS/ALS News Today/money donated to support science

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A £500,000 (almost $700,000) grant the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation was given to the LifeArc & MND Association Translational Research Fund to support work that might lead to new treatments for motor neuron diseases (MND), including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The fund, jointly established by LifeArc and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND Association) in 2021, supports research projects across the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland aiming to accelerate the development of treatments for these diseases.

Each charity has donated £500,000 to the fund, bringing its total to £1.5 million.

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“This fund gives hope that something can be found soon for those living with MND like myself. Researchers in the UK and Ireland are already making good progress, but urgently need funding to take the science out of the labs and into clinical trials,” George Wilson “Doddie” Weir, a Scottish rugby player who was a member of two championship teams during his career, and who founded My Name’5 Doddie Foundation in 2017 after being diagnosed with MND, said in a press release.

“We are excited to be teaming up with LifeArc and the MND Association who share our vision, and hope this £1.5m fund will make a real difference,”  added Weir, whose rugby jersey sported the number 5.

MND has no cure, and no available treatments can significantly alter its course. LifeArc, an independent medical research charity, partnered with the MND Association and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to address this unmet need.

Funding raised by the three charities will support promising projects aimed at developing new therapies for MND, or at repurposing treatments already approved for other disorders.

Project applications were accepted through June 10, and this additional contribution will “enable the support of more translational projects that have already applied,” the organizations announced on a LifeArc webpage about the fund.

Winning projects, chosen for the quality of the work and its goals, are also expected to produce results that will help to secure further funding for additional drug development work and, potentially, clinical trials of select investigational therapies.

“The expanded fund will help to bridge the gap between fundamental research into MND disease mechanisms and the search for practical treatments,” said Melanie Lee, PhD, CEO of LifeArc. “It means we can support more research grant applications of the highest quality with the greatest potential to make a difference to the lives of those living with MND.”

MND Association’s contribution was raised by Kevin Sinfield during his 7 in 7 Challenge — when he ran seven marathons in seven days to raise money and awareness of MND. The challenge was launched to help Sinfield’s friend and former Leeds Rhinos teammate, Rob Burrow, who was also diagnosed with MND.

“Our understanding of the causes of MND has improved dramatically over the last two decades but the biggest challenge remains: to turn this knowledge into effective treatments. We believe MND is not incurable, but it is underfunded, so we are delighted that through the three charities teaming up, we are able to ensure our own £½ million contribution … will be used to maximum effect,” said Brian Dickie, PhD, director of Research Development at the MND Association.

The My Name’5 Doddie Foundation also recently donated £300,000 to the MND Association and MND Scotland to support patients and families struggling with expenses associated with MND care.