Fundraising run to thank consultant 

06/06/2012 00:00 

Consultant neurologist and director of the UCL Institute of Neurology Professor Mike Hanna, led a team of colleagues in a fundraising race to boost research into muscle wasting diseases. Running alongside him was one of his grateful patients. 
 
Bill Aston with Professor Mike Hanna after finishing the BUPA London 10K run

Bill Aston with Professor Mike Hanna after finishing the BUPA London 10K run


Just a few years ago, running 10K was an impossible dream for Bill Aston. After being struck down with Polymyositis at the age of 33, he was left unable to walk or swallow.
 
Mr Aston, who lives in Jersey, said: “I was so weak I could not even lift up my bed sheet or pick up my one year old son, it was a bleak situation.  Professor Hanna always said I would eventually get back to doing what I normally do. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t think it was possible – the idea of ever being well enough to take part in a run was unthinkable.  Without his expertise I would be muddling along. I am enormously indebted to him.”
 
Money raised will support clinical research into finding new treatments and help fund young scientists to train and undertake a PhD at the Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases in Queen Square. Professor Hanna is the centre director.
 
Prof Hanna said: “We would like to give a larger number of talented young scientists the opportunity to do research in these diseases in our new centre.
 
"So far we have raised £120,000 and I am personally committed to raising £1million towards a comprehensive programme for talented young scientists to join our team and help us drive the research to find treatments.”
 
There are more than 100 neuromuscular diseases and common examples include Motor Neurone Disease, Polymyositis, Inclusion Body Myositis, Peripheral Neuropathy, Myaesthenia Gravis, Muscular Dystrophy and other life threatening diseases. They affect over 100,000 people in the UK.
 
Before being struck down, Mr Aston had been a good hockey player, a surfer and worked full time as an osteopath.
 
“During my osteopath training I learnt about Polymyositis but had been told it was so rare, I would never come across it in my career. Unfortunately they were wrong. It totally wiped me out. Prof Hanna told me about his fund-raising runs and I always said that if I recovered I would run with him to celebrate. And that’s what I’m doing.”
 
Initially, he flew from his home in Jersey to see Prof Hanna at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where he was admitted for three days for intravenous steroids. A few months later – under the care of Prof Hanna - he received intravenous immunoglobulin. This is a purified blood product that contains healthy antibodies from blood donors which can block the damaging antibodies that attack muscle in Polymyositis. Very gradually he partially regained his strength.

Prof Hanna then suggested Rituximab, a new drug treatment that is a monoclonal antibody that reduces the autoimmune attack on the patient’s muscles in polymyositis. It is also used as a treatment in certain types of cancer.  It recognises and locks onto specific proteins on the surface of white blood cells, to help the body's immune system recognise the cancer cells and destroy them.

For Mr Aston, it was a turning point. He said: “It stopped muscle inflammation, my blood count improved. I had my life back.”
 
He has now returned to work full-time and is able to enjoy life with his wife and two young sons.
 
The BUPA London 10,000m took place on Sunday 27 May, starting and finishing at St James’s Park.
 
To make a donation please visit Mike’s Just Giving page.

 

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