Wakefield man given months to live develops new treatment for motor neurone disease
A physicist is hoping to change the face of treatments for degenerative diseases, four years after his doctors told him he had only months to live.
Neil Verner was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, a rare condition affecting the brain and nerves, in 2016.
Neil, who previously played for Ossett Trinity, hopes that his background will allow him to approach treatments for the disease from a new angle.
He said: “I was a keen inventor all my life, I have a PHD in quantum and environmental physics and hold 11 patents.
“But four years ago I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and I was given between three months and 18 months to live.
“That was a tough time, as you can imagine.”
Determined not to be beaten by his illness, Neil turned his focus to studying his available treatment options - and quickly came up with his own alternative.
The majority of treatments for motor neurone disease take a biochemical approach, using pills and medications to treat the symptoms of the illness at a molecular level.
But Neil, 52, believes that focusing treatment on the electronic signals in the brain would be more effective.
He has now launched a fundraiser to help pay for his lifesaving research, which he estimates will cost around £95,000 in total.
He said: “Everybody has had somebody suffer from MS, motor neurone or Alzheimer’s. And the more people see it the more people may think ‘let’s just put £10 in’.
“I’m trying to raise money for research so I can do it myself.
“But I don’t want it to be one person to find the solution, I want it to be a public solution.
“All my research will be an open book and everybody can look at it and anyone can use all of the research.
“Please try to keep this going for me and anybody else who is suffering from a neurological condition. Let’s make a change together.”
Neil’s theory revolves around the electronic signals in the brain, which allow people to control their bodies.
Though studies have proven a link between motor neurone disease and a change in these signals, Neil says there has been little advancement in this front when it comes to treatment.
Using cutting edge equipment, purchased with help of his GoFundMe page, he hopes to track and remap the electronic activity in his brain.
If successful, the treatment could also be useful in treating other degenerative brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s.
The campaign has been shared far and wide within the rugby league community, with many of Neil’s friends and former colleagues helping out.
His colleagues at Sharlston Rovers and Crigglestone All Blacks, where he worked as a physio, have run hundreds of miles for his campaign.
Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward has also backed the campaign, with a video urging his followers to donate.
“Neil believes he can change the face of treatment for motor neurone and other brain conditions,” he said. “If you’ve got a spare fiver, that spare one or two quid, please tip it in. That would be mega.
“We can all do something really, really special.”
Though usual streams of funding have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, Neil remains determined to complete his research with the help of his friends and family.
He said: “I look at it from a personal sense. There’s never been anybody cured from motor neurone disease in the entire world.
“I still live life, I’m still happy, I don’t feel sorry for myself, so I’m happy.
“I think being happy makes a difference, it really does.
“I am going to do this. I want to do it and make a difference.”
Visit uk.gofundme.com/f/saving-neil039s-life to find out more about Neil’s research, or to donate to the campaign.
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