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Sunday Express MND campaign: Give us the funds so we CAN cure Motor Neurone Disease

Our Fund The Fight To Cure MND crusade is backing a group of causes that are already battling for the cash ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s next spending review. We are adding our voice to the push for the money already started by a coalition of charities in the United To End MND campaign, being run by the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MND Scotland and My Name’5 Doddie.

There are currently no effective treatments or cures for this devastating terminal disease. The campaign aims to make it “treatable”.

The Government claims it has spent £54million on MND in the past five years, but campaigners suggest most of the funding has gone towards general neurological research, rather than targeted studies.

They argue a more accurate estimate of targeted Government funding to be under £5million per year, less than the charities themselves contribute.

Motor Neurone Disease describes a group of diseases that attack nerves that control movement, so muscles no longer work.

READ MORE: Pfizer vaccine: Three delayed side effects to spot

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised £7million in the UK alone, kickstarting multiple advances in potentially life-changing new treatments.

Mr James described this as a critical moment for MND research. He added that with resources to run trials there could be a treatment for the disease in the next five to 10 years. “We are talking about making MND a treatable disease,” he said. “This would be a world-leading drug and discovery development and trials platform.

“We are at this important moment for MND because there’s been a lot of progress in recent years in research. We think we can really develop strong therapies for particular types of MND.

“With extra investment from the Government we will begin to see trials for treatments and therapies in the next few years and certainly some very exciting developments for particular types of the disease, which could see real treatments in the next five to 10 years.

“As a charity we can only do so much, so what we need is government and industry to come on board. We have felt MND is something of a forgotten disease when it comes to funding and research. We can only make progress with increased support.

“The Government looks at MND as a rare disease, which we don’t believe it is. There is a lifetime risk of one in 300 but because the prognosis can be very short, and many die within a year, you don’t get a growing number of people. This is game-changing for MND research. The institute will make all the difference.”

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“MND is a horrific disease, it is the most common reason people seek assisted suicide. We see people with cancer or other illnesses go on trials and it is incredibly frustrating that there isn’t anything there for us. Just being given the opportunity to try would mean everything to us.”

Parliament debated MND funding last week after a petition reached 100,000 signatures, while the official bid was given to the Government on Monday.

This proposal has been developed with the backing of global pharmaceutical companies, with letters of support from Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Eli Lilly and PrecisionLife.

It is hoped that increased investment from the Government and the resources this could bring, will spark even more interest from the pharmaceutical industry and establish the UK as the leading player in the extremely valuable global field of neurological disease research. Andrew Lewer, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Motor Neurone Disease, said: “I think there is the appetite in Parliament for this. There have been some major breakthroughs recently and now is the time to capitalise on that.

“There has been a change of tone, and scientists are saying they have found the key – they just need funding to bring it out.

“I don’t need to spell out why this is important. It is a ruthless disease. This is something that can make a massive difference and we could look back in a few decades saying ‘look, we ended up with a cure’.

“Britain is a leading country in this sector, this is a huge opportunity. We have done it with Covid, we played a huge role in HIV/Aids, and this could be the next massive British breakthrough.”

Prof Ammar Al-Chalabi, Neurologist and MND researcher, King’s College London

Motor Neurone Disease research is at a tipping point. When I started working on it, nearly 28 years ago, it was seen as a rare, hopeless disease that could never be cured. Now we know it is not really rare – it’s just that it usually kills people within a couple of years so there are never many around with it. More importantly, we now know it is possible to cure MND with the right tools.

For example, gene therapy, a type of treatment that edits someone’s DNA, works in a childhood condition similar to MND. Gene therapy trials for MND are happening now. But even if that treatment works, it will only cure about 10 per cent of people with the condition – those who have a genetic predisposition. The other 90 per cent still need an effective medicine.

Thankfully, we are making huge strides and we know more than ever before about what causes the disease, why the nerve cells die off, and how we might keep them healthy.

But we need proper investment. Diseases such as MND, dementia and Parkinson’s will become more common in the future because of the way the population is changing. MND often strikes people in the prime of life, just when they have families, when they are at their career best.

Around a third of sufferers die within a year of diagnosis and half within two years. This dreadful outlook is a tragedy for those living with it, but this rapid disease progression also means we can learn about what might treat it quickly. And what we learn can be applied to dementia and Parkinson’s because they are caused by similar problems in the nervous system.

Every clinic day, I have to give people the devastating news that they have MND. I have to tell them it is a terminal illness and there is no effective treatment.

I find those conversations emotional and very difficult.

But it is absolutely nothing compared to what receiving that news is like, to what those individuals are going through and will go through.

The only way to really help is to find a cure, and that takes more and better research.

This is what motivates me and the thousands of other health professionals and scientists researching MND across the world.

Charities do what they can. Their investment in targeted MND research in the UK outstrips that of the Government. But it is not enough. We need the Government and the life sciences industry to step up. That is why we started the United To End MND campaign. We know what even a little extra can do.

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge brought an additional £7million to MND research in the UK. About £5million of that was used to accelerate research programmes, bringing them forward by about five years.

As a direct result, we have discovered new genes linked to the condition and new ways to measure its progression using blood tests – both vital steps towards a cure.

MND scientists are fantastic at working together. Now we need the Government to work with us. Our vision is a virtual MND Research Institute, bringing together centres of excellence across the country to work together to find a cure.

This institute will be a partnership between patients, charities, scientists, health professionals and industry. With government on board, we could dramatically accelerate the search for a cure. We can see that targeted state funding like this helps. The Government already has similar schemes for dementia and cancer. Let’s do it for MND.

By creating a platform like this, we can make real progress. We can develop a research pipeline starting with understanding what happens in the patient, through to finding possible treatments for testing.

We can put those treatments into better clinical trials more quickly with a national, co-ordinated effort.

But that takes considerable investment up front. At the moment, only about one in 12 people with MND takes part in a clinical trial. We want to be able to offer that opportunity to everyone with the disease, giving them hope and scientists like me more of the information we urgently need. Conducting trials in this way is fast – that’s what worked in finding a vaccine for Covid.

Our ask, as a coalition – patients, neurologists, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MND Scotland and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation – is simple.

We want the Government to pledge £50million over five years to fund a national co-ordinated research effort in MND.

That will be matched by funding from charities and industry. £50million will be like a rocket booster for MND research.

The UK already has many of the world’s top MND researchers, best universities and top MND specialists. Let’s give them the lift they need to crack this scourge and accelerate the search for a cure.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Five things to watch as NASCAR Cup Series comes to New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Nascar

Kyle Larson has dominated the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season so far, but will that dominance carry over to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he’s never won, for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday afternoon?

Here are five storylines:

Hendrick’s Hot Shoe: Despite a flurry of NASCAR Cup Series regulars claiming wins early in the season — 10 drivers in the first 11 races — the summer stretch has belonged to Larson.

Larson claimed three consecutive runner-up finishes in May (Darlington, Dover and Circuit of The Americas) before clicking off four consecutive wins (Charlotte, Sonoma, Texas and Nashville). In doing so, the Hendrick Motorsports standout has not only cemented himself as a 2021 championship favorite, but proven that he’s a threat on any style track.

Larson will have his work cut out for him to keep that momentum going at the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, where he’s never won and led only 16 laps in 10 career starts.

Happy Again? Coming off of a career-best nine-win season last year, Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team haven’t been able to rekindle the magic in 2021, going winless so far this season.

But if there’s anywhere the 45-year-old veteran can get things turned in the right direction, the Granite State just might be the place. In 37 career visits to the 1.058-mile track, Harvick has earned four wins in Cup Series competition, tying him for most all-time at the track with Jeff Burton.

While he’s safely in contention to make the playoffs, a fifth NHMS victory would not only lock Harvick into the postseason but could be just the shot of confidence his team needs to make a run at his second Cup Series title.

Turf Wars: Northeast natives will be in the field battling for the win when the race goes green on Sunday. Joining New Jersey’s Martin Truex Jr., who considers NHMS his home track despite not being from New England, and fellow Connecticut natives Joey Logano and Ryan Preece this season is rookie of the year contender Anthony Alfredo. While all four drivers consider “The Magic Mile” their home track, only Logano has found his way to victory lane at NASCAR’s top level, winning a famed Loudon the Lobster in 2009.

Truex Jr.’s seven top-five finishes in 27 starts at New Hampshire, combined with three wins already this season, suggest fans shouldn’t count him out if he’s in contention in the closing laps.

And with a win in the Camping World Truck Series at Nashville earlier this year — his third victory across NASCAR’s top three series — Preece will be carrying a lot of confidence on Sunday.

Chasing a Championship: Fan favorite and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is among the drivers looking to take home his first Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 trophy this weekend, but to do so, he’ll need to change his luck.

In seven career starts at NHMS, Elliott’s best finish in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 machine was fifth place in 2018.

Despite starting on the second row last year and leading nine laps, the young driver ultimately fell to a ninth-place finish.

Playoff Implications: As the NASCAR playoffs loom, the action is heating up around the cut line, with several big-name drivers fighting for their shot at the championship, but by no means safely in contention heading into the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.

Harvick, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick are all fighting to stay inside the top 16 spots while Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto and Ross Chastain are on the outside looking in.

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This post originally posted here usnews

SsangYong Motor to sell plant site in rehabilitation efforts

SsangYong Motor Co., a debt-ridden automaker, has decided to sell the site of its plant in Pyeongtaek as part of self-rescue efforts, the local government said, Trend reports citing Yonhap.

The company has been under court receivership since April, as its Indian parent, Mahindra & Mahindra, failed to secure a buyer for its 75 percent stake in the automaker.

The city government of Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the court-appointed manager of SsangYong and its labor union, regarding the sale of the site, which measures 850,000 square meters and is valued at 900 billion won (US$ 786 million). The plant was constructed in 1979.

The company will build a new factory in Pyeongtaek, and the city will provide administrative support in the process of construction and relocation, the city said.

“We will actively support SsangYong Motor to grow into a global company that contributes to the development of the local economy,” Jung Jang-seon, mayor of Pyeongtaek, said.

Chung Yong-won, court-appointed administrator of SsangYong, said the new plant will focus on green and self-driving cars as a base for the company’s long-term survival.

SsangYong opened an auction for its majority stake on June 28. EY Han Young, an accounting firm in charge of the sale process, issued a public notice that it will accept letters of intent from potential buyers until the end of July and conduct preliminary reviews on them in August.

Motor Abnormalities a Harbinger of Serious Mental Illness?

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Motor problems in children may be a harbinger of serious mental illness, new research suggests.

Investigators found that motor abnormalities were twice as common among those who develop psychosis or depression compared to their counterparts in the general population, suggesting that these abnormalities may help predict vulnerability and provide an opportunity for early intervention.

“We have learned there are motor signs that are measurable in adolescence [that are] more prevalent in these disorders,” said lead investigator Katherine S. F. Damme, PhD, Adolescent Development and Preventive Treatment Program (ADAPT), Northwestern University, Chicago, IIllinois,

“This is just scratching the surface of motor signs, but they may have some transdiagnostic vulnerability across these psychopathologies” to which sensorimotor connectivity and motor behaviors “might provide additional insight,” Damme added.

The findings were presented at the virtual Congress of the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) 2021.

A Core Symptom

There has been a lot of interest in the pathophysiology of psychosis and in detecting it early, said Damme. “It has devastating effects, and early intervention is of great importance,” she added.

However, previous research has typically focused on affect or cognition, rather than on motor signs, despite the fact that motor signs are a “core symptom of both psychosis and depression.”

The prevalence and presentation of motor signs in adolescence, which is a “critical time for identifying these risk markers” because of their proximity to the onset of psychosis, has been understudied, Damme said.

For their study, the investigators gathered motor function data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD), which included 10,835 children aged 9 to 11 years with broad demographic diversity from 21 sites across the United States.

Overall, 27.6% of the children were reported to have least one motor sign; approximately 3% were reported to have two or more motor signs.

The most common of these was dyscoordination, which was endorsed by 19.3% of participants. In addition, 8.8% were reported to have had experienced developmental motor delays, 1.5% had psychomotor agitation, and 0.3% had psychomotor retardation.

The investigators determined that 4.6% of participants met criteria for depression, 2.6% for a psychosis, and 1.8% for comorbid psychosis and depression.

Motor signs were much more common among children with depression, psychosis, or both than among those who did not have these conditions; 45.8% reported having at least one motor sign.

Developmental motor delays and dyscoordination occurred at about the same rate in both patients with depression and those with psychosis. Rates were higher among patients with both of these conditions than among those with either condition alone.

In contrast, psychomotor agitation was more common among patients with depression alone and among those with comorbid depression and psychosis than among patients with psychosis alone. The rate of psychomotor retardation was increased among patients with psychosis alone but was less common among patients with comorbidity than in the healthy control group.

Familial Vulnerability

The investigators also assessed participants who had not been diagnosed with a mental illness but who had a family history of depression only (28.9%), a relative with psychosis-like experiences (0.6%), or a family history of both depression and psychosis experiences (1.8%).

Although the effect size was smaller, there was a higher rate of motor signs among participants with a family history of these conditions, Damme said. “Again, we see that it’s elevated across developmental motor delays and at a similar rate in people who have depression and psychosis.”

In addition, psychomotor agitation was linked to depression with psychosis and depression without it.

Sensorimotor connectivity network data for the cohort indicated there was no main effect of diagnosis on corticostriatal connectivity.

However, more depressive symptoms were related to less connectivity (P = .024). There was a similar finding for psychotic-like experiences. The total number of such experiences related to lower connectivity (P < .001).

During the post-presentation discussion, Ian Kelleher, MD, PhD, honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, Dublin, said he was “surprised” by the finding that the rate of psychomotor retardation was lower among participants with psychosis and depression.

Damme noted that some of the motor sign item ratings came by way of a child interview and that some of these item ratings came from the adults in the children’s lives.

She added that she was not entirely sure whether asking an 8- to 11-year-old in a clinical interview whether they are experiencing motor signs “might be the best way to get at motor slowing.”

Subtle Features

Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, Peter F. Liddle, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom, noted that the “features we’re talking about are pretty subtle.

“What I’ve been wondering about for some time is whether we should be getting video recordings and using machine learning approaches to teach a computer to recognize normal movements vs abnormal movements, and particularly facial expression,” said Liddle, who was not involved with the research.

He called the current study “interesting” but noted several factors that affect the potential utility of the findings in predicting outcomes.

First, they “may not be very good for distinguishing schizophrenia from mood disorders; but if the question is simply determining which young person might go on to develop a significant mental disorder, then it may be useful,” Liddle said.

He endorsed the investigators’ conclusion that motor abnormalities may be a transdiagnostic marker. Beyond that, they may be “more useful as a predictor of the likely long-term severity, but that’s my own hypothesis based on my work,” he added.

Another question concerns the sensitivity of motor abnormalities as a predictive marker. With the rate of the abnormalities identified in those who developed psychosis and depression about double the rate in the overall population, “it sounds like those assessors were fairly sensitive…but not all that specific,” said Liddle.

A third issue relates to treatment. “By the time people get sent to a psychiatrist for assessment for possible impending psychotic illness, they’ve often already had medication,” typically an antidepressant or antipsychotic.

“It’s very well established that dopamine-blocking antipsychotics produce hypokinesia and also dyskinesia,” which could then become a confounding factor, Liddle said.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. The study authors and Liddle have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Congress of the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) 2021: Abstract 3007091. Presented April 19, 2021.

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High cholesterol: Could statins protect against motor neurone disease?

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) collaborated with the National Institute of Health (NIH) to conduct a large study of data. They’re the team who discovered the association between high cholesterol and motor neurone disease. Dr Alastair Nouce, from QMUL, said: “This is the largest study to date looking at causal risk factors for motor neurone disease. “We saw that higher levels of LDL cholesterol were causally linked with a greater risk of the disease.”
“Motor neurones control important muscle activity such as gripping, walking, speaking, swallowing and breathing,” explained the charity.

“As these nerves are attacked, messages gradually stop reaching muscles. This initially leads to weakness and wasting and then, eventually, severe paralysis and breathing difficulties.”

A person’s mental capabilities aren’t usually affected, therefore a person is aware of their deteriorating condition.

One of the most famous cases of motor neurone disease is that of Professor Stephen Hawking.

Am I at risk of motor neurone disease?

Most people diagnosed with the condition are over the age of 50, although Professor Hawking received a diagnosis at 21 years old.

Data suggests that men are more at risk of developing the disease than women.

A small number of sufferers, up to 10 percent, have a family history of motor neurone disease.

However, this statistic also highlights that most cases of motor neurone disease aren’t thought to be linked to genetic susceptibility.

The devastating disease can kill a third of people diagnosed with the condition within one year.

Brain Research said: “There is no cure, and no effective treatment.”

This is why QMUL researchers hope to evaluate “the use of cholesterol-modifying drugs in people at risk of motor neurone disease”.

The body of work is published in journal Annals of Neurology.