New Funding Available for Pre-Clinical Projects to Identify Drugs for Evaluation in the EXPERTS-ALS Platform

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a degenerative neurological disorder affecting around 5,000 people in the UK. There is currently no cure for the disease and whilst clinical trials are taking place, the vast majority fail due to poor selection of drugs that are evaluated. This is true even when using repurposed drugs, where currently available compounds used to treat one disease are tested for their effectiveness against another disease. As such there remains an urgent unmet need for safe and effective treatments for MND.


The Motor Neuron Disease Translational Challenge, a multi-million-pound programme developed by LifeArc, aims to accelerate MND research by fast-tracking scientific discoveries into new clinical solutions to transform how MND is detected, treated, and managed. The funding will be used to invest in collaborative projects with a goal of making MND treatable by 2030 and to ultimately find a cure.

As part of the Translational Challenge programme, LifeArc have committed to investing at least £5 million into pre-clinical translational research to boost drug repurposing in MND. This funding is being made available to researchers via the Preclinical Discovery and Development of Repurposed Drug Candidates for MND grant, which opened to expressions of interest applications in February 2024.


Proposals funded via this scheme will generate data on the pre-clinical translation of repurposed drug candidates that can feed directly into EXPErimental medicine Route to Success in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (EXPERTS-ALS) and other MND trials. This data will help researchers make better informed decisions on which repurposed drugs to prioritise testing within clinical trials.


As part of the funding call, LifeArc held a webinar on Drug Repurposing for MND on Monday 5th February to discuss the need for better repurposed treatment options for people living with MND, and to share information about the open funding call.


Professor Christopher McDermott, co-lead of EXPERTS-ALS, joined the Webinar panel which discussed a shared vision to transform the way in which potential MND therapies are assessed so that only the most promising candidates make it into clinical trials. Professor McDermott presented on the EXPERTS-ALS drug prioritisation platform, discussing the drug repurposing landscape within MND and outlining how platforms such as EXPERTS-ALS may be a potential translational route for successful pre-clinical projects funded via this new grant.


Professor Martin Turner, co-lead of EXPERTS-ALS, said “The story for the last 30 years has been too many failed trials with too little biomarker data to help improve future trials. The best predictor of a drug having benefit for human MND is a human biomarker of disease-slowing. EXPERTS-ALS offers the hope of identifying the most promising drugs to put into trials by using a biomarker-led experimental medicine screening approach. This UK-wide platform will allow screening of smaller groups of people living with MND to give a more rapid ‘go’ or ‘no go’ to putting a candidate drug forward for testing in a placebo-controlled trial.”



Listen to the full webinar here: LifeArc Webinar on Drug Repurposing for MND ( 

Find out more information about this funding call here: MND Drug Repurposing Programme - LifeArc