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Queen Square Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases

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Launch of the International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases

8 April 2019

We are delighted to announce that Professor Fiona Watt CEO MRC launched the new £5m International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases in an event hosted by Lord Kakkar on 3rd April 2019.

ICGNMD PIs at Queen Square

The Centre is a £5m initiative, led by Professor Michael Hanna, Director of UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, bringing together skills and resources from five countries and aims to advance the genetic diagnosis and therapy for patients with muscle wasting neuromuscular diseases, including motor neurone disease and muscular dystrophy, which affect at least 17m children and adults globally.

As a part of the Centre’s research, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will soon launch its first patient trials. These trials will provide a better understanding of the different genes present in India’s populations, which affect neuromuscular diseases, and this insight could lead to better treatments.

The launch event was attended by ambassadors and representatives from each of the partner countries: India, Zambia, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey.

ICGNMD PIs outside Palace of Westminster

Director of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and Director of the ICGMND Professor Michael Hanna, said: “I am delighted that Professor Fiona Watt CEO MRC launched the new £5m International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases. This is a fantastic MRC supported initiative partnering 14 centres in 6 countries across 5 continents"

"Our vision is to create a transcontinental genomics research and capacity building partnership between the UK with excellent centres such as AIIMS. We will discover new disease genes, define the genetic variants in known neuromuscular genes, understand comparative genetic architecture in different populations and explore disease mechanisms. We will dramatically increase the number of patients with an accurate genetic diagnosis, build "trial ready" cohorts and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients with this unmet health need drawn from a combined population of over 1.5 billion people.”

In 2018 the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology led a successful £3.66m bid to the Medical Research Council (MRC) to establish a brand new International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases. An additional £2m was contributed by UCL and UK collaborators Newcastle and Cambridge Universities.

The aim of the Centre is to develop an international fellowship programme in genomic medicine, to increase the number of neuromuscular disease patients with an accurate genetic diagnosis, and to build "trial ready" cohorts and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients.

Staff and resources from international centres in India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and Zambia will be central to the partnership.

Read the UCL news article here.

Read more about the ICGNMD centres here.

Credit: UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology Medical Illustration