Scientists involved in clinical trials say they have found a "promising" new drug which could slow down the progression of motor neurone disease (MND).

In the global trials, some patients with a faulty SOD1 gene reported that they had better lung and mobility function a year after taking the drug tofersen.

Tofersen is an investigational drug, which means scientists have been analysing its efficacy and safety during the trials.

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and scientists said it was “remarkable” for a disease characterised by “relentless decline”.

Dame Pamela Shaw, professor of neurology and director of Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) at the University of Sheffield, said: “I have conducted more than 25 MND clinical trials and the tofersen trial is the first trial in which patients have reported an improvement in their motor function.

The drug tofersen could help slow down the progression of motor neurone disease (PA)Tofersen helped people recover some motor function after 12 months (PA)

“Never before have I heard patients say, ‘I am doing things today that I couldn’t do a few months ago – walking in the house without my sticks, walking up the garden steps, writing Christmas cards’.

“For me this is an important treatment milestone.”

Around 5,000 people in the UK have MND, with 2% developing the condition due to a faulty SOD1 gene.

Chris McDermott, professor of translational neurology at SITraN and co-author of the study, said: “Although tofersen is a treatment for only 2% of those living with MND, we have learned much in doing this clinical trial that will help us do smarter and faster clinical trials in the future.”

Two-thirds of the participants were randomly assigned to receive eight doses of tofersen over a 24-week period.

They were assessed to judge motor function in swallowing and speaking, breathing, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills.

They also gave samples of spinal fluid so the researchers could measure levels of proteins associated with MND.

Results showed that the drug did not improve motor control and muscle strength after six months but patients reported better patient mobility and lung function after 12 months.

Improvements were seen in the MND biomarkers in patients’ cerebrospinal fluid at six months.

What is motor neurone disease?

On the NHS website it states: "Motor neurone disease (MND) is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time."

It can affect a person's ability to walk, talk, use their arms and hands or breathe.