Page last updated at 06:37 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 07:37 UK

'It gives me hope of a cure'


Liz Shipley believes the research may lead to future treatment

Legislation permitting controversial research which uses animal eggs to help make human cells for research is to be debated in the House of Commons.

The process takes virtually all the animal's genetic material out of the egg and replaces it with human DNA.

Critics say it is wrong to combine animal and human genetic material in admixed embryos, which then produce stem cells, in this way.

But Liz Shipley, who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), says such research gives her hope there will one day be a cure.

MND is a muscle wasting disease. As the motor neurone cells in the brain and spine die and stop sending messages to muscles, the muscles gradually die.

But the person's brain is unaffected.

MND takes away a little piece of you, bit by bit
Liz Shipley

Most people with MND have the sporadic form of the disease, which appears for no apparent reason.

But, in about 5- 10% of cases, there is a family history.

In Liz's case, her grandfather, mother, two uncles, her sister and a cousin have all died from the disease.

She has watched them deteriorate, and knows what lies ahead for her.

"It ends up leaving you totally paralysed and unable to do anything, but the brain's unaffected."

She added: "I have cared for someone with MND. I've been on both sides of the fence. I know what the outcome is going to be, and I can't change that."

Death sentence

The family risk was only established after Liz had had her two children, and it is possible that they too could develop MND.

Liz Shipley with her family before she became ill
Liz Shipley with her family before she became ill

Liz, 46, from Newcastle, was diagnosed 10 years ago. Her legs and arms are now very weak, and she needs a wheelchair to get around.

She said: "MND takes away a little piece of you, bit by bit."

"I can't go out without someone being with me. Even something like making a cup of tea is very difficult on my own."

She added: "This technique should be able to be used in the hope it can find a treatment for MND. I hope MPs let it go ahead.

"They're not creating any human beings. They just need the cells in order to hopefully find a treatment and a cure."

"It would be brilliant if, one day, neurologists could say 'well you've got MND, but we can do something about it'.At the moment, there isn't anything.

"It wouldn't be in my lifetime, but if my children are unfortunate to develop MND, hopefully in their lifetime there will be a cure, and they won't have to face the consequences of MND.

"It would mean that people wouldn't live with a death sentence".

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