Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Motor Neuron Disease (MND)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MND and its causes; NIMHANS.

Why in the News?

The annual conference on Motor Neuron Disease (MND) ‘Awareness, Care and Management’ was held at NIMHANS.

What is Motor Neuron Disease (MND)?

  • MND is a condition that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, which are responsible for controlling your muscles.
  • Over time, these nerves (called motor neurons) stop working properly, leading to muscle weakness and wasting away.

Types of MND:

  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): The most common type. It affects both upper and lower motor neurons, leading to weakness in various body parts.
  2. Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP): Affects the nerves in the brainstem, leading to problems with speaking and swallowing.
  3. Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA): Affects only the lower motor neurons, causing muscle weakness and wasting.
  4. Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS): Affects only the upper motor neurons, causing stiffness and movement difficulties.

Causes of MND:

  • Genetic Factors: In some families, MND can be inherited due to specific gene mutations.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain toxins, viruses, or physical injuries might contribute, but this is less clear.
  • Age and Gender: It usually affects people between the ages of 50 and 70 and is slightly more common in men.


  • Muscle Weakness: Starts in one part of the body, like an arm or leg, and gradually spreads.
  • Muscle Cramps and Twitching: Small, involuntary muscle movements.
  • Difficulty Speaking and Swallowing: Due to weakness in the muscles used for these functions.
  • Breathing Problems: In advanced stages, muscles that control breathing can be affected.
  • Emotional Changes: Some people might experience changes in behavior or thinking.


  • Clinical Examination: A doctor examines your symptoms and medical history.
  • Electromyography (EMG): Tests the electrical activity of your muscles.
  • Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS): Checks how well your nerves send signals.
  • MRI: Scans to rule out other conditions.
  • Genetic Testing: To check for inherited forms of MND.


There is no cure for MND, but treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

  1. Medications:
    • Riluzole: Can slow down the progression of ALS.
    • Edaravone: Another drug that may slow down the decline in daily activities.
    • Symptomatic Treatments: For muscle cramps, excess saliva, and emotional symptoms.
  2. Therapies:
    • Physical Therapy: Helps maintain muscle strength and mobility.
    • Occupational Therapy: Aids in performing daily activities.
    • Speech Therapy: Assists with speech and swallowing difficulties.
    • Respiratory Therapy: Supports breathing issues.

Back2Basics: National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS)

Location Bangalore, India
Affiliation Autonomous institute under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
Ranking Ranked 4th best medical institute in India by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)”
  • Founded in 1847 as the Bangalore Lunatic Asylum.
  • Renamed as the Mental Hospital in 1925.
  • Amalgamated with the All India Institute of Mental Health (AIIMH) in 1974 to form NIMHANS.
  • Conferred with deemed university status by the University Grants Commission in 1994.
  • Declared an Institute of National Importance by an act of parliament in 2012.
  • Operates with academic autonomy under the “Societies Registration Act, 1860”.
  • Prioritises service, manpower development, and research in mental health and neurosciences.
  • A multidisciplinary integrated approach was adopted for translating research results into practice.
Funding Receives resources for academic and research activities from national and international funding organisations.
  • Engages in mental health outreach initiatives including critiquing mental health reports and collaborating with government agencies for training and counseling.
  • Known for diagnosing and treating various mental health conditions including depression and neurobiological disorders.

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