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7 April 2015, 07:16
A political campaigner dying from a degenerative condition has urged politicians to double funding to find a cure for his illness and create a research hub in Scotland.
Gordon Aikman, 30, who has motor neurone disease, said Scotland could be on the cusp of finding a cure for the illness with the right funding and co-ordination.
In a speech at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, he will make a personal plea to party leaders.
"Half of people with MND die within 14 months of diagnosis,'' he said.
"The odds are stacked against me. This is likely to be the last general election I will see.
"So with just weeks until we go to the polls I am making a direct and personal plea to all the party leaders.
"David, Ed, Nick and Nicola - the ball is in your court.
"Don't tell me it can't be done. Let's dare to dream.
"We are poised to find the cure here in Scotland.''
Scotland is home to world-leading MND researchers with a population which can be easily monitored by the NHS, while the recent decision to double the number of MND nurses will allow better tracking of patient progress, he said.
"Scotland is the ideal place to drive both the discovery science, as well as deliver a stratified medical approach for individual patient care and ultimately better-focused clinical trials,'' he said.
He added: "I am dying but I am confident and excited about what the future of MND research holds.
"This is it. This is our chance.
"With the political will and modest investment we can and we must find a cure for future generations.''
First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has backed Mr Aikman's call for all political parties to commit to increasing funding to find a cure for MND.
She said: "Gordon Aikman's bravery and commitment is an inspiration to us all. He is an impressive campaigner whose efforts have brought the impact of MND and the importance of finding a cure to the forefront of public attention.
"In government we have worked with Gordon and taken steps to improve the care and support available for those with MND by putting in place the funding needed to double the number of specialist nurses, and we are working with MND Scotland and the MND Association to fund a clinical academic fellowship in MND.
"The SNP supports Gordon's call for additional funding and on top of our own investment Scottish health ministers wrote earlier this year to both the Medical Research Council and the UK Treasury to encourage extra funding for research into MND.
"SNP MPs will continue that pressure for increased funding and the government will continue our work with Gordon and MND Scotland to deliver improvements for MND sufferers.''