Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

This site is best viewed with a modern browser. You appear to be using an old version of Internet Explorer.

BioMOx Study - overview

In this page

This study is funded by the Medical Research Council

What are biomarkers?

MND (ALS) research is held back in part by the lack of an early diagnostic test and predictable markers of the progression of the disease - these are called biomarkers. Patients still wait too long for a certain diagnosis of MND, and it is possible that future drugs may need to be given at much earlier stages to be most effective. Clinical trials currently require lengthy study times to get a clear answer, and don't always account for the variability of the disease between patients. The worldwide MND research community and the MND Association UK are united in their desire to improve this situation:

"We regard this study as extremely important and it is a great opportunity for people with MND to be actively involved with research. With your support this study has the potential to play a pivotal role in the discovery of a biomarker for MND." said the Motor Neuron Disease Association.

Biomarkers might be changes visible on research MRI scans, or substances measurable in the blood or spinal fluid. These would need to be specific for MND and change in a predictable way with the type and progression of the disease. The discovery of such biomarkers could change the way that clinical trials are organised, allowing beneficial drugs to be identified more quickly and ineffective drugs to be discounted sooner. It is also hoped that biomarker discovery, by speeding up diagnosis, could allow drugs to be given at a much earlier stage, which might improve their effectiveness. Biomarkers specific for certain patterns of disease spread in MND would permit improved care planning and might further understanding of disease mechanisms, with the potential to provide new drug development targets.

Go to top…

What does BioMOx involve?

Phase 1 of The BioMOx project (The Oxford Study for Biomarkers in MND/ALS) ran from 2009 to 2013 and studied 72 MND patients (of all disease sub-types, including PLS) for one day every six months. In this way we carefully followed a unique cohort of MND patients through their individual disease pathway, and generated some strong candidate biomarkers.

Phase 2 of BioMOx is now developing these candidates for use in the clinic, and to look for the very earliest detectable changes.

This requires the study of several groups:

  1. MND patients
  2. People suspected to have MND but not yet diagnosed
  3. People with conditions that look like MND but are known to be something else
  4. Healthy relatives of MND patients where the condition runs in the family, particularly if there is a known genetic mutation
  5. Healthy volunteers of similar age to MND patients

The full set of BioMOx tests may not be suitable for those with any non-removable metal implants e.g. brain or heart coils or clips. There are some exceptions but these must be discussed with our research team in advance.
There is parking and wheelchair access on site (Car Park 1, see map at the link below).

Participants are paid for their time (£50 each visit), as well as being refunded all travel expenses incurred.

This project is funded largely by the Medical Research Council and UK Motor Neurone Disease Association, and does not take anything away from NHS funds or patient care.

Further information

If you would like to find out exactly what's involved, please visit the links below, or email the research coordinator Lynn Ossher directly:

Go to top…

DEPARTMENTS AND SERVICES