A charity founded by former Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir has made its first investment into motor neurone disease (MND) research.
The 47-year-old announced his diagnosis with the disease last year to raise awareness of the degenerative condition and pledged to devote his time to helping with research and supporting fellow sufferers.
The My Name’5 Doddie Foundation is to contribute £400,000 to support the work of Chris Shaw, professor of neurology and neurogenetics, and his team at King’s College London who are investigating gene therapy for sporadic MND.
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Weir said: “We have received incredible support since we launched the Foundation in November and it was important for us to take time and consider how best to use the funds we have raised wisely.
“Everyone has been so supportive and worked very hard to give us this opportunity and I would like to thank each and every one of those who has given their time, energy and hard-earned money to allow us to move forward and invest in research.
“We held our first advisory panel in April to learn as much as possible about the current state of play with regards current thinking and research into MND.
“It was heartening to meet a group of such committed and dedicated professionals and we will be making further announcements in the coming weeks about where else we can support their work.
“I have said it before but while it may be too late to find something that can help me, I am committed to doing everything I can to help find a cure.”
The funding follows an independent report commissioned by the trustees of the foundation to help steer investment in research.
Professor Shaw said it was “terrific news”.
“This is a game-changing commitment by the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to employ the latest gene therapy technologies to develop revolutionary new treatments for people with MND.
“This is a high-risk, but potentially very-high return, initiative that could make a dramatic impact on the course of this dreadful disease.”