To receive immediate updates on breaking news, subscribe to our breaking news emails and get them delivered straight to your inbox for free.
Register for our complimentary email alerts for the latest breaking news.
One year after his passing, the foundation established by the late rugby player Doddie Weir has promised to continue their unwavering pursuit of a world without MND.
The organization MNDF, also known as My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, has pledged over £11 million towards 40 research initiatives aimed at discovering effective treatments and ultimately a cure for the illness.
In April of this year, Weir’s charity, which was created after his diagnosis in 2016, unveiled a five-year research plan called “Catalysing a Cure.”
This outlines the allocation of significant funds towards groundbreaking research aimed at discovering remedies and ultimately a solution for MND, a condition that impacts approximately 5,000 individuals in the UK at any given moment.
A new project at University College London (UCL) and the Francis Crick Institute has been awarded up to £500,000 to study the effects of DNA damage on the development and progression of MND.
Professor Rickie Patani is leading a research project with the hope of identifying potential drug targets for the treatment of MND in the future.
The declaration comes after previous significant pledges were made to various projects, such as up to £250,000 for a research project at King’s College London, led by Dr Andrea Perera, with the goal of creating a novel gene therapy for MND and improving a new method of administering it to motor neurons.
The package also provides £50,000 in initial funding for further UCL studies aimed at understanding the biomarker and treatment possibilities of a widely recognized protein in MND.
If the attempt is successful, it could potentially enhance the process of testing new treatments in the future.
Jill Douglas, chief executive at My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said: “One year on from Doddie’s death, his presence is as large as ever as a symbol of hope and unity in our relentless drive towards a world free of MND.
The progress in researching MND remains strong, thanks to the numerous supporters who raise funds for the foundation. Together, we will persist in our efforts to discover new treatments.
“The foundation’s current commitment of £11 million towards this research will greatly benefit the MND community’s ongoing efforts. However, we recognize that much more is needed to reach our ultimate goal. This is where our unwavering dedication lies.”
According to Jessica Lee, the director of research at the foundation, they are dedicated to supporting research that will speed up the progress of finding new treatments for MND, a debilitating disease that currently lacks any successful solutions.
“The exciting and potentially ground-breaking nature of these projects is reflected in the significant investment we are making. When we launched our new research strategy, Catalysing a Cure, these kinds of projects, with the potential to open up new therapeutic avenues, were exactly what we had in mind.
This is only the starting point, and we will keep funding new research in order to achieve more progress in finding successful treatments for MND. Additionally, we will ensure that all donations made to the foundation are utilized to have the greatest impact.
Kathy, the wife of Doddie, remains a strong advocate for his campaign. Together with their sons Hamish, Angus, and Ben, she is committed to raising awareness about MND and the importance of investing in research to discover effective treatments and ultimately find a cure.
Although he understood that it was unlikely meant for him, he desired to extend that sense of hope to all those affected by MND, both currently and in the future.
When he first began, the thought of having £11 million seemed like a distant fantasy. However, the significance this amount of money will have on numerous research projects and the battle against MND is truly remarkable.
This year, the foundation has collected a significant amount of money for research. This includes over £700,000 from Kenny Logan’s well-known 700-mile Rugby World Cup Challenge, £88,000 from a group of Doddie’s former Scottish Schoolboys teammates from 1988, and a record-breaking £2 million from the annual Doddie Aid campaign that involves mass participation.
Next month, the 2024 Doddie Aid event will take place and is expected to gather thousands of individuals from the UK and Ireland to participate and raise funds for research.
Doddie Aid is a virtual mass-participation exercise event, founded by Doddie’s friend and former Scotland captain Rob Wainwright, that lasts for five weeks from January 1 2024.
In the past three years, the event has had over 60,000 people participate, covering a total of eight million miles and raising over £4 million for the foundation.