LABOUR has called for the Medical Research Council to consider increasing research funding for motor neurone disease (MND) in support of a campaigner who has the condition.
UK and Scottish leaders Ed Miliband and Jim Murphy have joined forces to back Gordon Aikman, who launched a fight for more funding after being diagnosed with the incurable neurodegenerative disease last year.
His campaign, launched in Scotland on Sunday in June last year, calls for funding for MND research in the UK to be doubled, and has so far raised more than £200,000.
A joint letter from Miliband and Murphy urged the body’s chair, Donald Brydon, to look at the case for increasing funding across the United Kingdom.
Miliband said: “I have had the privilege of meeting Gordon Aikman and hearing about his campaign.
“His dogged determination to fight for better care for MND sufferers is as selfless as it is inspiring.
“Edinburgh University and others are involved in world-leading work to find a cure for MND but much more needs to be done.
“The Medical Research Council should take a fresh look at the funding available for MND research.
“Only when MND is no longer a death sentence can we be satisfied that we are doing enough.”
Murphy said: “Gordon Aikman is a friend and colleague. Along with many others, his campaign to raise awareness of MND has been inspirational, putting the need for greater investment in research and nursing care at the top of the political agenda.
“What has been the most remarkable thing about Gordon’s campaign is that he doesn’t expect to benefit from many of the things he is fighting for. This is about making sure that the MND patients of the future get a better shot at survival than those of today. There is a powerful case for the Medical Research Council increasing the amount of money it invests in MND research. I hope they will listen to Labour’s call.”
Aikman said he was “absolutely delighted” with the support and called on other party leaders to match it.
He said: “Ed Miliband has thrown down the gauntlet. It is now for the other party leaders to match his commitment.
“Whatever happens in the general election, patients deserve to know the UK is serious about creating a world free from MND. We are poised to find a cure here in the UK: we have top scientists and world-leading universities. Doubling MND research funding will help make that dream a reality sooner. It will be too late for me, but we can and we must find a cure for future generations.”
A spokeswoman from the Medical Research Council said: “This is a terrible disease and there is still much we need to learn about its underlying causes in order to help devise effective therapies. “The MRC currently spends £3.6 million a year specifically on MND research, and would welcome high-quality research applications that would increase this figure.”