Let me introduce myself. My name is Kay Davies and I’m a geneticist and medical researcher. I’m based at Oxford University, and I have dedicated my career to understanding and treating neuromuscular conditions. I’m also a Vice President of Muscular Dystrophy UK.
We are currently in exciting times in muscle-wasting research. As we launch into 2018, I wanted to give you an update on a few key research developments – the places I see the greatest hope, and where your generosity could make the biggest difference.
I have been lucky enough to have received research funding from Muscular Dystrophy UK since the 1980s, so I know first-hand how important donations like yours can be. Way back in 1989 my team and I discovered a protein called utrophin, which occurs naturally in the body. Utrophin is important because it protects muscles from wasting damage.
Ever since that discovery I’ve been looking to develop a drug treatment that increases the level of utrophin to slow the progress of Duchenne. I’m delighted to report that Summit Therapeutics is now in Phase 2 clinical trials with a promising drug which we developed with them called Ezutromid, which could be a powerful new weapon against the condition. The results of this trial will be ready this spring, and Muscular Dystrophy UK will be sure to keep you updated as they partly funded the work.
In my career, I’ve witnessed astonishing increases in the pace and power of research across the neuromuscular field, especially within the last few years. And this progress in research has led to an upsurge in potential treatments reaching clinical trial. The problem, however, is that there is now a lack of a strong UK clinical infrastructure to test these new drugs. We just haven’t had enough centres of research excellence where new discoveries can be turned into treatments. In fact, centres are having to turn down studies, simply due to lack of capacity. At times, it can feel like driving with the brakes on.
In 2018, however, thanks to funding from Muscular Dystrophy UK, the brakes are coming off. This year will see the opening of the Oxford Neuromuscular Translational Research Centre, in conjunction with Oxford University and the John Radcliffe hospital. This will be the third UK centre of its kind, and it will vastly increase our ability to test potential drug therapies for all muscle-wasting conditions. The Oxford centre will link with existing centres in London and Newcastle, boosting their capacity and capitalising on the infrastructure Muscular Dystrophy UK has already set up across the country.
This is a landmark moment in muscular dystrophy research, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be heading up the new centre alongside my colleagues Professor Kevin Talbot and Professor Matthew Wood, both of whom are leaders in the neuromuscular research field.
I dearly hope you will lend your support to this work. Your donations form a vital link between the scientists in the lab, the doctors in the clinics and the patients who ultimately stand to benefit from new treatments. However much you give, you will be keeping all this exciting progress moving forward.
And thanks to one of our key donors, who has kindly offered matching funds for this appeal, any amount you give right now will have double the impact! Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to make a much bigger difference.
With a gift today, you could help put in place a dedicated clinical trials coordinator for the Oxford Centre. This important role will work across both children’s and adults’ neuromuscular disease services and is crucial to setting up and running clinical trials.
Training and capacity-building are integral to the vision behind the Centre. A larger donation today could help contribute to the investment in the next generation of neuromuscular research students and clinician scientists.
And because your gift will be matched pound for pound, the more you give the more you will help boost clinical trial capacity in the UK, ensuring more neuromuscular patients in the UK will have sufficient opportunities to participate, thereby bringing hope to them and their families.
When I first got involved in muscular dystrophy research back in the 1980s, we knew so little. I couldn’t have imagined that we’d get to where we are today – with so much excitement and optimism among my research colleagues, and with some of the best and brightest minds flocking to the field of neuromuscular science.
We are on the brink of a new era in the treatment of neuromuscular conditions. I can’t wait to see what the coming years have in store, and I am so grateful to know that there are dedicated people like you, driving our work forward. You have my deepest thanks.
Professor Dame Kay Davies
Vice President, Muscular Dystrophy UK
PS: Remember, the generous offer of matching funds from one of our key supporters means that whatever you give will be doubled! Don’t miss this opportunity to have twice the impact on the fight against muscular dystrophy. Please give what you can today. Thank you.
All donations up to a total of £100k will be matched to create double the impact. Thank you for your kindness today.
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