UCL News


Scientists identify gene for Motor Neurone Disease

2 May 2003

Scientists at UCL will today announce the discovery of a new gene which is responsible for a form of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

This discovery will help pave the way to a successful treatment for MND, the third most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

A collaborative research group led by Professor Elizabeth Fisher (UCL) have identified two specific mutations in the same gene enabling the team to determine the precise link between these gene mutations and the selective, progressive degeneration of motor neurones.

The research groups used two distinct mouse models of late-onset MND and traced the genetic cause of the symptoms of the disease to specific point mutations in one gene, Dnchc1. Mutation in this gene impairs transport in nerve cells causing these cells to die.

Professor Fisher said:
"In finding this gene, we are helping to answer fundamental questions in MND research and have identified a link between specific gene mutations and the progressive degeneration of motor neurones."

The research funded by the Motor Neurone Disease Association, was conducted by UCL, Ingenium, Queen Mary College, Cancer Research UK, Munich Technical University and the German National Research Centre for Environment and Health.