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New centre could ‘lead the world’ in neuromuscular research

Publication date: Mar 6, 2007 12:07:54 PM

Researchers into neuromuscular disease and those affected by these conditions have welcomed a significant MRC grant to create the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases, turning our growing understanding of the mechanisms of neuromuscular disorders into practical treatments and cures.

The centre is a result of a partnership between a group of academic and medical institutions committed to translating research into patient care. These are UCL's Institute of Neurology and Institute of Child Health, the University of Newcastle, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust, and Great Ormond St Hospital for Children (GOSH). It can draw on significant populations of affected patients at the partner hospitals and a wealth of basic science and translational expertise, which will ensure major benefits to the treatment of patients with neuromuscular disease throughout the UK.

The external international peer review undertaken by the MRC stated that this centre had the potential to lead the world in this area.

"Although there have been impressive advances in understanding the molecular basis of many neuromuscular diseases, this has not yet been translated into clear patient benefit or new treatments. We have identified a number of key obstacles to delivering this translational benefit and the centre aims to specifically address each of them. By uniting an impressive team of experts in London and Newcastle, we are hoping to make progress in tackling these diseases," say Professors Mike Hanna, Director, and Martin Koltzenburg, Deputy Director of the new centre.

UCL Institute of Neurology (IoN)

Roger Lemon, Director of the Institute of Neurology, said: "The mission of the IoN is to carry out high quality research in the basic, clinical and translational neurosciences. Together with our associated specialist hospital, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, (UCLH), the Institute promotes translation of research that is of direct clinical relevance to improved patient care and treatment. As a Postgraduate Research Institute of UCL we also carry out an important role in teaching and training researchers for careers in clinical neuroscience. There are major groups undertaking basic and clinical research in neuromuscular disease that will play a major role in the new centre."

UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH)/ Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH)

ICH and GOSH are the country’s only Biomedical Academic Centre specialising in paediatrics, and the largest centre for paediatric research and training outside the US. They form the leading centre for paediatric neurosciences in the UK. Both are consistently rated excellent in their research and the joint centre is of world class significance. Both have long established links with the National Hospital for Neurology (and UCLH more broadly) and the Institute of Neurology. Professor Martin Koltzenburg, Neurosciences Theme leader at ICH, will be a Deputy Director of the Centre.

UCL

“The impact of breakthroughs in basic medical science on understanding the cause of many neuromuscular diseases has been enormous and this will lead to major improvements in diagnosis and treatment in the years ahead. The development of the new MRC translational research centre brings together many of the best scientists in the UK in this field and puts us in a strong position to lead the world in translational neuromuscular research.” said Professor Edward Byrne, incoming Dean of the UCL Faculty of Biomedicine.

UCL Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, added: "We welcome the establishment of this centre at the UCL Institute of Neurology and thank the MRC for their generous contribution and ongoing support. The centre will play a major role in the advancement of scientific knowledge in this field and, most vitally, in the development of treatments to improve the lives of those who suffer from these debilitating neuromuscular conditions."

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH)

"UCLH has recently succeeded in becoming one of the five Comprehensive Biomedical Centres in England, underlining its commitment to translational research which results in real benefits in patient care. The Neuromuscular Centre based at Queen Square will provide a clear focus for this group of patients and will facilitate a dynamic and multi-disciplinary approach to improving their treatment”, said Professor Alan Thompson, Clinical Director of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (part of UCLH) and an investigator for the Centre.

University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle has a long history of research excellence in neuromuscular diseases, and the four PIs (Professors Bushby, Struab, Turnbull and Chinnery) together with the incoming Professor of Experimental Myology, Professor Hanns Lochmeuller, represent a very strong grouping with expertise in a range of different neuromuscular diseases in children and adults. The translational strength of the centre is reflected in the recent award of an EU centre of excellence co-ordinated from Newcastle in this field of research, TREAT-NMD. Professor Bushby will be a Deputy Director of the Centre.

-Ends-

Notes to editors

1.) For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Ruth Metcalfe in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9739, mobile: +44 (0)7990 675 947, email: r.metcalfe@ucl.ac.uk, out of hours: +44 (0)7917 271 364

2.) The MRC’s release about the announcement of the six national centres can be found at http://www.mrc.ac.uk/NewsViewsAndEvents/News/MRC003562