Motor neuron disease is a condition that arises when specialized nerve cells (motor neurons) in both the spinal cord and brain stop functioning properly. In the United States, less than 20,000 cases are reported every year, while in the United Kingdom, 3 out of 100,000 individuals are diagnosed with it every year. This condition is chronic and has no cure. Newer treatments are being discovered, which can help people alleviate several symptoms.
The MND Association has stated that a lot of clinical trials have led to disappointing results, but even so, they have helped to pave the way for future trails. Researchers are making progress every day.
Several researchers are conducting clinical trials in different parts of the globe to find more solutions to either alleviate this disease or combat it once and for all. Defective genes that could intervene in the development of motor neuron disease are currently being investigated. Researchers believe that stem cells are the master cells of the body and thus have the capability to divide and become any cell. What this means is that they might be utilized to create new motor neurons shortly.
MND Association’s DNA Bank Samples
At the moment, MND Association’s DNA Bank samples are being utilized to obtain more information on the genetic causes of motor neuron disease. In 2014, researchers received access to white blood cells to model this health matter. To this day, more than 3,000 individuals have contributed to the MND Associations DNA Bank in the United Kingdom, and it appears that this number keeps growing. Samples are being used to learn the way variations in the DNA may contribute to the development of motor neuron disease.
Research for Treatment
Even though there is no cure for MND, medications have been formulated to slow the progression of the disease by controlling the symptoms. One of the most common drugs that are prescribed by doctors is Riluzole.
GM604, which is developed by the American pharmaceutical company Genervon, has been used in clinical trials. Twelve people in total utilized it for over a 12-week period and obtained great results from doing so. In February of 2015, the results of this trial were presented to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which licenses drugs in the United States. To date, no decision has been made.
In 2013, the drug Nuedexta became available in the United Kingdom, to treat emotional depression associated with MND, as well as other neurological conditions. Unfortunately, in 2016, its marketing authorization was withdrawal from the EU by the request of Avanir Pharmaceutical Inc., who was the developer and of the drug.
Evolvement of Tests
Over the years, there have been some tests that make the diagnosis of motor neuron disease easier and faster, including:
transcranial magnetic stimulation,
magnetic resonance imaging study, and nerve tests.
The transcranial magnetic stimulation measures the activity of nerves that travel from the brain to one’s spinal cord. Electromyography consists of thin needles to measure the electrical activity of muscles. On the other hand, nerve tests consist of an electrical impulse that is applied via a small pad that is placed on the skin. The magnetic resonance imaging study utilizes radio waves and magnets to produce images of the inside of one’s body.
Studies continue on motor neuron disease by the MND Association, pharmaceutical companies, and other establishments. Only time will tell how far the medical field progresses in solving this health issue.