A drug which could slow the progression of motor neuron disease (MND) is to be moved to a feasibility study involving people living with the condition.
Researchers believe that terazosin, a drug typically used to treat enlarged prostates and high blood pressures, could also help those with MND.
The condition affects around 400 people in Scotland at any given time.
In studies using zebrafish, mice and stem cell models, experts have found that terazosin projects against the death of motor neurons by increasing their energy production.
It is unclear as to why motor neurons die, but a decrease in their energy production takes place at an early stage of the disease.
Motor neurons need to produce energy to carry the brain’s instructions to the muscles.
If there is not enough energy, the messages cannot be transferred effectively and movement is affected.
If the new feasibility study into the effect of terazosin in MND patients is shown to have positive results, it could pave the way for a full clinical trial in future.
MND Scotland was the key funder of the study into the drug, which has been published in eBioMedicine.
The study was also funded by the Mr Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
Dr Jane Haley MBE, director of research for MND Scotland, said: “As key funders of this research study, we are delighted to see a potential new therapy for MND on the horizon.
“The results of this study show us that terazosin, a drug currently used to treat enlarged prostates and high blood pressure, may be able to protect motor neurons.
“We are delighted that, as a result, the drug will move to a feasibility study in Oxford, involving people living with MND.
“This is a wonderful example of researchers, clinicians and MND charities working together to try and speed up the search for new treatments for MND.
“As a charity, our work is only possible because of the incredible fundraisers who go the extra mile to help fund vital research. Thank you to everyone who is doing their bit to make time count.”