Motor neuron disease (MND) Research

Strenuous exercise, genetics and MND

Pre-clinical

Unravelling the link between strenuous physical activity and the development of MND

Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Dr Johnathan Cooper-Knock & Dr Ryan West, University of Sheffield

£435,000* | March 2022 - February 2025

Summary: Several research studies from recent years have reported an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including MND, in people who have played elite sport. It is not known what causes this reported increased risk for MND but it has been suggested that strenuous exercise could be linked to the development of MND in people with a specific mutation in the C9orf72 gene. 

Professor Shaw and her team will use a range of human cell and fruit fly models, as well as analysing genetic data from people living with MND, with the hope of unravelling the interplay between genetics and environmental factors such as strenuous exercise.

Why this research is important: This research could enhance our understanding of how lifestyle and genetics intertwine in disease onset and progression, revealing new therapeutic targets for MND. It may also allow healthcare professionals to guide personalised lifestyle recommendations for those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. The findings have the potential to significantly impact public health approaches and treatment strategies for MND.

Read more about this project on our website or if you are interested in participating, you can find out how here.

*This project is co-funded by private donations.

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