New Neurosciences Institutes

A new research institute has launched to accelerate the search for a cure for motor neuron disease (MND, also known as ALS).  

Doctors look at a series of brain scansThe UK Motor Neuron Disease Research Institute, or UK MND RI, aims to discover new treatments that could ultimately mean MND becomes a curable condition. 

People with MND are at the core of the Institute, which brings together a virtual network of MND labs, clinical centres, and researchers carrying out world-leading MND research across the UK. It is co-directed by MND clinician researchers Prof Ammar Al-Chalabi at King’s College London and Prof Chris McDermott at the University of Sheffield. 

MND is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. People progressively lose voluntary movement and need complex care. Around one-third of people with MND die within a year of diagnosis, and more than half within two years. Although it appears rare, MND will affect 1 in 300 people in the UK – every day in the UK, six people are diagnosed and six people die with MND. 

There are currently no treatments to cure MND, and just one licensed drug for MND in the UK, which has only modest effects. As a result, the research to hunt for a cure being done within the Institute is vital. 

As part of the Institute, the team of doctors, clinicians, scientists and people with MND, together with charities and other funders, will work together in a more coordinated way than ever before, to speed up drug discovery and drug development. The team want to take new scientific discoveries, ‘translate’ that knowledge into new approaches to treatment, and then test those potential treatments in clinical trials. 

Prof Ammar Al-Chalabi, co-director of the new UK MND Research Institute and Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics at King’s College London, said:

MND is devastating, and we desperately need to find meaningful treatments as fast as possible. This virtual MND Research Institute means MND researchers across the UK and beyond can work together as a team, joining up lab science with clinical practice to advance research more quickly towards an effective therapy.

Click here for more information on the UK MND RI. 

Also last month, The Epilepsy Research Institute was officially launched at a reception hosted by Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman MP.  

The Institute is the world’s first national research institute dedicated to epilepsy. The event brought together research leaders, industry representatives, founding partners, research programme theme leads and people affected by epilepsy. 

The Epilepsy Research Institute will serve as the central hub for the epilepsy research community. The Institute’s mission is to radically advance research into the causes, prevention and treatment of epilepsy and its associated conditions.  

The Institute also aims to strengthen the epilepsy research ecosystem by driving strategic investment and developing partnerships and collaborations between academia, the NHS, industry, funders, and patient groups. Central to this will be a culture of advocating and actioning the research priorities of people affected by epilepsy. 

The theme's research priorities are to: 

  • Identify mechanisms (processes and interactions) by which the brain becomes susceptible to seizures at different life stages (childhood/adolescence/adult/older age) 
  • Harness recent advances in genomics, mechanistic studies, imaging and clinical studies 
  • Identify how and by what mechanisms epilepsy and its treatment impact learning, cognitive development and ability during childhood 
  • Identify how and by what mechanisms epilepsy and its treatment impact cognitive ability in adult life 
  • Identify how and by what mechanisms epilepsy and its treatment impact mental health in children and adults. 

Other themes include Disease Modification & therapeutics, Mortality, Morbidity & risk, Reproduction & hormones, Capacity Building, and Enabling Technologies. 

Prof Juan Burrone, Professor of Developmental Neurophysiology at the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, is the Basic Science co-lead for the institute's Neurodevelopment theme. Prof Burrone said: 

I am delighted to be a part of this important new initiative. The creation of the Epilepsy Research Institute UK is a unique opportunity to foster research into this devastating condition and help uncover novel treatments for people with epilepsy. I see the inauguration of this Institute as a turning point in our efforts to better understand the disease and find new cures.

Find out more about Epilepsy Research Institute UK

King’s Health Partners Neurosciences has an ambitious vision to use our collective clinical, research, and educational expertise to deliver world-class patient care and research.