By: 2 December 2015
New £1.3m research consortium for spinal muscular atrophy

The SMA Trust is to fund a new consortium for research into spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in the UK over the next three years.

The consortium will consist of world-class research and clinical experts based at Oxford, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield universities, under the joint leadership of Kevin Talbot from the University of Oxford and Edinburgh University’s Tom Gillingwater. Its main aims will be to further develop existing drug targets and identify new neuroprotective therapies to maintain nerve function throughout the lives of people living with SMA, and to identify improved ways of delivering treatments in order to maximise benefit throughout the body.

The new consortium has come about because of impressive recent progress in research, that has highlighted the increasing need for research collaboration, not just within the SMA field, but in areas common to other neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy and motor neurone disease.

“By bringing together specialists across the UK, the UK SMA consortium will facilitate greater integration between research groups in order to maximise the impact of our research on accelerating the identification of effective therapies for SMA,” said Talbot

SMA is the leading genetic cause of death in babies and toddlers and the SMA Trust is the only UK charity solely focused on funding research into finding a cure and treatments for SMA. The Trust has spent nearly £3 million since it was founded and now funds 75 per cent of all UK charity-funded research into SMA. It also helped create SMA Europe, an umbrella organisation that funds research projects all over Europe and the USA, as well as promoting knowledge-sharing, collaboration and representation of a united ‘patient voice’ to pharmaceutical companies and regulatory authorities involved in clinical trials.

Joanna Mitchell, CEO of The SMA Trust said: “While a cure for SMA remains the ultimate goal, we also recognise that, for the time being, ‘success’ is equally likely to come in the form of combinations of treatments that improve the quality of life of people living with SMA.”

Source: University of Oxford