Motor Neurone Disease Research: Government Funding

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:07 am on 13th December 2022.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 11:07 am, 13th December 2022

The hon. Member’s request is very clear. As I said to him a moment ago, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will meet researchers and patient groups at a roundtable about this issue. If that is not the same meeting as the one he wants, I am very happy to take that point away and find out exactly what meeting he wants and how we can make sure that it takes place as well as the planned meeting.

I have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton South over the past few weeks about red tape getting in the way of research, which we clearly do not want to be the case. To help cut red tape, research funders from NIHR and the Medical Research Council are working together so that MND proposals will go to the right scheme at the early idea stage and so that applications can be considered before they even have full sign-off from their universities and institutions.

We are also building on our recent announcement of £790 million for the NIHR biomedical research centres by putting in MND funding, so that it gets quickly to the most promising researchers already working on MND.

To sum up and return to where we started, there is no doubt that MND is a cruel disease that takes people before their time and, as it does so, takes them bit by bit from their loved ones. As yet, there is no cure. However, I say “as yet” because I have hope, and we have real grounds for optimism with the clinical trials. We also have £50 million going into MND research. I have outlined today how we are accelerating that funding to go to the frontline of research and to develop the treatments that will make a difference to MND sufferers, whether here and now or in the future.

In no small part, that is thanks to the late Doddie Weir and his family, Rob Burrows, Ed Slater, Kevin Sinfield, and all the other MND campaigners and carers who have worked so hard to raise awareness of MND and push for more action on MND research. I can assure them that their efforts are not in vain. I personally take inspiration from all their tireless work, which reinforces the Government’s commitment to fund and support research into MND. We owe it to people with MND, future sufferers, and all the campaigners and researchers to push ahead with the groundbreaking research that will help to develop effective treatments and, indeed, cures for this cruel disease.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended.