Published on 24/05/2010
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have launched a stem cell project they hope will give new insight into motor neurone disease
The condition, which causes muscle wasting and can impair vital functions, is fatal for around half of all sufferers within the first year-and-a-half.
However, it is hoped that stem cells engineered to carry the same defective genes that cause motor neurone disease will shed light on the way in which it develops.
The research is being led by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, who famously cloned Dolly the Sheep, with funding from the Motor Neurone Association.
Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Siddharthan Chandran, who is also working on the project, said: "Slowing down the disease is our first aim, stopping the disease is the second, and the home run would be to repair and restore lost function."
One of the most famous sufferers of the condition is Professor Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist.
He is also among the longest-surviving people with motor neurone disease at the age of 68, having been diagnosed when he was just 21 years old.
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