Race Star Legend Neil Cunningham’s Legacy Continues

racing car

After a long battle with Motor Neuron Disease, the former race car driver Neil Cunningham died at the age of 52 in 2016. MND affects more men than women; this disease happens when motor neurons in both the spinal cord and brain stop functioning properly. Diagnosed in 2011, Mr. Cunningham focused first on his health and then became active in fundraising to help others combat this disease.

Symptoms Became Apparent

Neil Cunningham was a very successful British GT race car driver. He also performed stunts for the popular Top Gear television series. Neil started to see symptoms while working on Top Gear. As the disease progressed, he was no longer able to perform even the most basic activities. For a while, he tried to ignore the symptoms, but there came a day when he had to confront his fears. With the support of his family and friends, Neil visited a doctor.

Facing the Situation

When Neil was diagnosed with MND in 2011, he could not speak about his health. Then in 2013, Neil revealed his dismay at having a disease that had no cure. It was a very traumatizing period in his life, but Mr. Cunningham was able to quickly pick himself up and begin to talk about his health more openly in the hope of helping others.

Fund Raising


Neil Cunningham decided to use his celebrity to inform people about this horrible disease and to raise money to help others who were battling it. This professional racing star hosted several charity events that raised money for MND as well as other diseases. At one particular event, he was able to raise more than 160,000.00 Euros.


Neil Cunning initially setup Racing4MND as a fundraising website that accepted donations for MND research. His hope was that through funding, researchers would find a cure for this fatal disease.

Mr. Cunningham’s Legacy Lives on

Even though Neil Cunningham is no longer with us, his legacy continues. Websites have been established to encourage dohttp://www.heatonellistrust.com/nations for MND research. “Remembering Neil Cunningham” is a Justgiving web site created in 2016. Donations are made to Neil’s favorite MND Foundation, The Heaton Ellis Trust.


The only way we will find a cure for MND is thru research. And research requires a lot of money for paying salaries, establishing trials, and creating medications. Let’s hope that a cure for this horrible disease is found soon.


What is Current Research for Motor Neuron Disease?

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.

Clinical Trials

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.

Innovative Research


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.

Research Continues

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.

What is Motor Neuron Disease?


Human beings face a lot of challenges during their lifetime. The most difficult come as critical health conditions. Some illnesses may arise from genetic modifications, or from the surrounding environment. Motor Neuron Disease is the term for a group of diseases where neuron messages stop going to muscles. There is no cure for MND, and it is unclear what the cause is.

What is MND?

neuron connectors

MND is a progressive neurological condition which affects the motion neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. The illness makes communication between the brain, spinal cord, and other muscles difficult and eventually leads to the atrophy and wasting of the muscles. As the disease progresses, speech is impaired, walking, holding items, eating, and even breathing becomes difficult.

Common Symptoms of Motor Neuron Disease

The symptoms of MND do not happen all at once; they may also differ from one person to another. The symptoms can include:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms in the hands and feet. Changing positions or light exercise can be therapeutic. However, in severe cases, the doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant
  • Stiffness of joints, which can also be helped by gentle exercises
  • Difficulty in communicating, often characterized by slurred speech
  • Problems swallowing food and water
  • Breathing problems due to weakening of the respiratory muscles
  • Choking or coughing, often associated with difficulty in swallowing as the saliva blocks the airways

Types of Motor Neuron Disease

There are four main types of MND. They affect people differently. Although the condition is not very common, it’s fatal when it occurs. It’s uncommon to get two types of the conditions, although the symptoms may overlap making it hard to distinguish one from another.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

ALS is the most common type of MND that affects a lot of people. It affects both the top and the lower motor neurons. Weariness and the wastage of limbs are characteristics of ALS. Weakness makes it difficult to hold items and also leads to tripping while walking. Upon onset of the symptoms, the Life expectancy is two to five years on average.

Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA)

PMA is rarer than the other MND’s. It’s also less severe and affects mainly the lower body neurons. Upon onset of the symptoms, one may live for over five years. Early symptoms include clumsiness of the hands.

Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP)

Out of the people diagnosed with MND, about a quarter of them suffer from PBP. It affects both the upper and the bottom motion neurons. Slurred speech is among the first symptoms. Life expectancy is however small, with those affected living an average of six months to three years of onset of the symptoms.

Treatment of MND


There is no known cure for the disease. However, treatment may help lengthen lifespan while at the same time making the condition much easier to deal with. The only approved drug is Rizole. It does help extend life but is not a cure. Making plans for care is essential for the MND patient.