Professor Martin Turner
Oxford University & Oxford MND Clinic
Martin Turner is Professor of Clinical Neurology & Neuroscience within Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. He is honorary consultant neurologist to the John Radcliffe Hospital, and co-director of the Oxford MND Clinic. Working in partnership with MND patients for 20 years, his focus is the development of biomarkers from neuroimaging and biofluid assays, to accelerate therapy discovery. He chairs the Research Committee of the Association of British Neurologists, and is an Associate Director of the Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School. He sees general neurology patients, including on call, and is a prolific educator of medical students, doctors of all grades, allied healthcare professionals and the public. He has more than 220 peer-reviewed publications listed and is co-author of several books: ‘Fast Facts – Diagnosing ALS’ (Karger), ‘Landmark Papers in Neurology’ (OUP), ‘MND – A Practical Manual’ (OUP), ‘The Oxford Textbook of Neuromuscular Disorders’ (OUP) & ‘The Beginner’s Guide To The Brain’ (Oneworld).
The importance of biomarkers
While understanding the basic neurobiology of MND is essential to effective therapy development, the inability to measure therapeutic response to candidate drugs necessitates lengthy and costly trials. Sensitive biomarkers of disease activity in MND would allow faster no-go decisions as well as providing earlier proof-of-concept. MND is a clinically heterogeneous disorder, and biomarkers offer potential to reduce the significant diagnostic delay for regionally-isolated and more slowly-progressive forms, who may not meet current inclusion criteria. Biomarkers that aid prognostic and molecular stratification will help to ensure that type 2 (false negative) errors are minimised. The routine development of longitudinal natural history cohorts in MND has catalysed a range of candidate neurochemical, neuroimaging and neurophysiological biomarkers. The routine integration of multiple biomarker candidates into all future therapeutic trials in MND will provide essential insight into why drugs fail, so that lessons are learned and success arrives sooner. The extension of biomarker exploration to cohorts of symptom-free individuals at high genetic risk of MND will underpin the development of future preventative interventions.