LifeArc Joins MND Association in 7 in 7 Challenge Bolstering Research, Care

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by Mary Chapman |

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The U.K. research organization LifeArc will match £500,000 (about $704,000) of the money raised by the director of the Leeds Rhinos’ rugby club in a series of marathons he ran to support research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other motor neuron diseases.

The match for this part of Kevin Sinfield’s 7 in 7 Challenge — in which he ran seven marathons in seven days to support his friend and former teammate, Rob Burrow, who has motor neuron disease (MND) — raises it to £1 million. In total, Sinfield raised about £2.2 million in his December challenge.

“This is fantastic news and an amazing contribution from LifeArc,” Sinfield said in a press release. “When we set out to complete the 7 in 7 Challenge we hoped to raise awareness and funds to support the MND community but it is so wonderful to see the inspiration it has given people and organizations, like LifeArc, so they too can support the need for more research.”

The challenge is open to anyone who wants to help raise money for a LifeArc and MND Association joint fund to advance research into both new therapies and repurposed treatments to help people with these neuromuscular diseases.  The goal is to complete seven events — walks or runs of any distance — in seven days, raising money as you go.

Those who raise at least £77 (about $109) in a challenge will be given a 7 in 7 metal by the MND Association.

More than 400 people have taken the challenge, raising more than £175,000 to date, the association states on a webpage.

“Our hope, like that of everyone affected by this disease, including Rob, is that this money will make a real difference and help find the breakthrough we all desperately want,” Sinfield said.

Scientists may now apply for research funding. Applicants must be able to complete their projects within three years, have set milestones, and a delivery plan that includes a way to reach MND patients. Funding for each project is capped at £500,000, and the application deadline is June 10.

Eligible treatment approaches include those focusing small molecules, peptides, antibodies, gene therapies, cellular therapies, vaccines, and regenerative medicine. A webinar in the form of a workshop is set for May 25 to help those interested in applying.

“We are so grateful to LifeArc for this generous contribution and are looking forward to working with them to identify projects which have a real chance of making a difference to our community in the coming years,” said Brian Dickie, PhD, the MND Association’s director of research development.

As a result of greater MND awareness and the fund being raised in the 7 in 7 challenge, the nonprofit organization recently committed another £2 million to MND research, adding to the £3 million it already pledged this year.

About a quarter of the money raised will go directly to translational research, the association reports, with the rest supporting five other association goals: the group’s care center network and efforts to expand the network’s engagement with clinical trials, support for patients’ children and families, the MND Connect helpline, and regional teams in the country’s north.

“The ambition around stimulating the search for new treatments fits with LifeArc’s approach over the last 25 years to translate early science into healthcare treatments or diagnostics that can transform patients’ lives,” said Melanie Lee, LifeArc’s CEO.

“Our partnership with the MND Association is the latest in a series of strategic partnerships that maximize LifeArc’s expertise in translating strong discoveries from the lab into benefitting patients with conditions with few or no effective treatment options,” Lee added.