A £35,000 investment into a rare genetic condition at St Andrews University will ‘bring hope’ to those living with it, says Diana, Countess of Lindsay.
The money takes the total invested into myotonic dystrophy research by the Cranbury Foundation, which is closely tied to the Countess of Lindsay’s family, to over £750,000.
The last 35 years of funding, delivered through Muscular Dystrophy UK, was prompted as several members of Lady Lindsay’s family have had myotonic dystrophy, including her late sister and two brothers.
The new £35,000 investment represents the first time Muscular Dystrophy UK has invested in research at St Andrews University.
Myotonic dystrophy causes muscles to weaken, stiffen and waste over time, leading to increasing disability. It affects an estimated 9,500 people in the UK.
A cheque was presented by Lady Lindsay to Muscular Dystrophy UK to fund the work of researcher Doctor Judith Sleeman, as part of a lab visit to find out more about the project.
The research will try to understand why proteins inside the cells of people with myotonic dystrophy get stuck in the wrong place, causing the condition. Dr Sleeman’s team have already shown that a specific protein normally found in parts of the cell called paraspeckles are not found in those with the most common form of myotonic dystrophy, and the new project is investigating this further. It is hoped the results will help direct future research into treatments.
Diana, Countess of Lindsay, said:
“Our family is delighted to continue our longstanding support of Muscular Dystrophy UK. The charity has done so much to help us understand more about myotonic dystrophy, and the research currently being carried out by Dr Sleeman’s team will help build on that. I know from my family’s experience just how invidious a condition it is and how urgently we need treatments. This project brings hope that we will get one step closer to them.”
Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“Myotonic dystrophy is a devastating condition. We are so grateful for the longstanding dedication of Lady Lindsay’s family and the Cranbury Foundation, which has already helped us understand more about what treatments could work. We look forward to the results of this pioneering research.”
Doctor Judith Sleeman said:
“The funding of this project by Muscular Dystrophy UK has allowed us to follow a novel angle to try and understand the way in which the most common form of myotonic dystrophy, DM1, damages cells. DM1 affects many different tissues and organs of the body and it is imperative that we learn more about what goes wrong in the condition if we are to develop effective treatments. It was a pleasure for my team, Dr Monika Magon, Selma Gulyurtlu and I, to show Lady Lindsay the research facilities we have here at St Andrews and the progress we have made since the project began.”
The research is due for completion in 2020.