The Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research has discovered new ways to study how the disease destroys the motor neurones.
The joint research project, led by scientists from the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh, has shown that even before they show any signs of damage, motor neurons affected by MND lose the ability to generate the electrical signals required to make muscles contract due to changes in specialised proteins called ion channels.
Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, has been supporting research and awareness drives in Motor Neurone Disease (MND) for many years. She lost her own father to the degenerative condition.
Ms McKelvie has said: "I am delighted to hear of any step forward in the long and painstaking research into this brutal, destructive disease.
"This research is using stem cells derived from patient skins samples and has been published in the Nature Communications open-access peer journal this week.
"To see that leading edge research could be turning the corner for sufferers of this devastating disease is encouraging, although a cure is still a long way off."
Dr Gareth Miles from the University of St Andrews is the lead researcher on the project: "Our findings suggest this may be an early step in understanding and ultimately treating the disease process of MND and highlights ion channels as potential targets for future therapies. Our work also demonstrates that studying the function of stem cell-derived motor neurons could be important for the development and testing of new drugs to treat and eventually cure the disease.