RESEARCH investigating potential treatments for motor neurone disease (MND) has secured a further funding boost, bolstered by the efforts of Grasscroft rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield.
The former Leeds Rhinos and England captain raised £2.5 million for the Motor Neurone Disease Association by completing seven marathons in seven days last December, five of them around Saddleworth.
Last month, Sinfield and MNDA announced £500,000 of the money would be ring-fenced for research into the terminal illness.
Now, medical research charity LifeArc has pledged to match that amount, creating a £1m fund dedicated to stimulating research into practical treatments.
The money will be targeted at research teams whose work is clearly focused on developing effective treatments. Researchers have until mid-June to apply for support from the fund.
Kevin, now Leeds Rhinos’ Director of Rugby, said: “When we set out to complete the 7 in 7 Challenge we hoped to raise awareness and funds to support the MND community.
“But it is wonderful to see the inspiration it has given people and organisations, like LifeArc, so they too can support the need for more research.
“We have seen over the last year the vital work that can be done by researchers and scientists when they are given the resources they need. MND is not incurable.
“It has just been underfunded and our hope – like that of everyone affected by this brutal disease-is that this money will make a real difference and help find the breakthrough we all desperately want.”
MND attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work and can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk and eventually breathe.
Every day in the UK six people are diagnosed with the disease – half will die within two years of diagnosis.
Kevin was moved to raise funds and awareness after his Leeds team mate, Rob Burrow, was diagnosed with MND in December 2019.
Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development at the MND Association said: “Our understanding of the causes of MND has improved dramatically over the last two decades but clinicians are still unable to offer their patients any truly effective treatments.
“We have to turn this new knowledge into potential new treatments if we are to offer people with the condition and their families real hope.”
Dr Dickie added: “Everybody who heard about Kevin’s magnificent effort on behalf of his mate and teammate, Rob, was so moved.
“Just months later his efforts are building hope in the most practical way for thousands of people affected by this devastating condition.
“We are so grateful to LifeArc for this generous contribution and are looking forward to working with them to identify projects which have a real chance of making a difference to our community in the coming years.”