At year's International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the MND Association will be celebrating women leading the research into motor neuron disease (MND) in the UK.

The charity supports female researchers at different stages of their careers who are contributing to a better understanding of MND and for new treatments.

One such researcher is Dr Emily Carroll, based at the Oxford MND Centre, who is repurposing existing drugs to treat MND.

She uses cells in the lab that have a faulty gene linked to the development of MND for her tests.

She said: "We hope that drug repurposing will allows us to fast track the drug discovery process for MND because the drugs we are testing have already gone through extensive safety testing.

"By investigating whether repurposed drugs can modify MND associated traits in different laboratory models, we can identify drugs that might be worth exploring further as potential treatments for MND".

International Day of Women and Girls in Science will be celebrated on February 11.

The deadly disease claims six lives daily in the UK, according to the charity, and with no known cure.

As of December 2023, nearly £21million has been invested in supporting female researchers and making breakthroughs in the field.

Women represent half of the non-clinical fellows and nearly two-thirds of the PhD students funded by the charity.

Charlotte Gale, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, is finding ways to modify faulty genes that cause MND with medicines that are already used to treat other conditions. She’s using a fruit fly model of MND to study if the drugs can alter disease progression.

The charity said some of the processes underpinning the disease are the same in a fruit fly as a human.

She said: "It's really exciting when I can actually see something that makes the flies better.

"Obviously it's not a person, it's not even a mammal - but it's so promising.

"Where you can just see that little glimmer of light that maybe something will work someday, and maybe it can actually be carried through."

Dr Rebecca Saleeb, a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, is finding for new ways to diagnose MND at an earlier stage.

She said: "I want to work on things that can impact people’s lives.

"I'm still relatively early in my career, but now I really am working at the forefront and feel like I really am a scientist, and that's super exciting.

"I love piecing together results and solving the puzzle, however little it is."

She said it can be tough being a woman in science, adding that there still needs to be progress to support women to stay and make it work for them.

For more information on MND and the MND Association, visit