Development of confocal endomicroscopy for MND research

About the project

Diagnosis of MND is currently based mainly on clinical judgement and there are few objective neurological tests.

We are developing an imaging technique using a slender fibre-optic probe connected to a confocal microscope. This approach may eventually enable neurologists to examine directly, in the muscles of a patient, the size and shape of their neuromuscular junctions: the points where motor neurones contact muscle fibres and which are among the first components of motor neurones to be affected by MND.

We think this tool may also be useful for directing potential new treatments for the disease to the right spots, and to help monitor the progress and effectiveness of such treatments. So far, we have been successful in tests of our methods on tissues from mice and rats. We are optimistic about extending these to human tissue, then patients.

Watch Richard Ribchester describing this project:



Motor Neurone Disease Association


Jones RA, Reich CD, Dissanayake KN, Kristmundsdottir F, Findlater GS, Ribchester RR, Simmen MW, Gillingwater TH
NMJ-morph reveals principal components of synaptic morphology influencing structure-function relationships at the neuromuscular junction
Open Biol. 2016 Dec;6(12). pii: 160240
Brown R, Dissanayake KN, Skehel PA, Ribchester RR
Endomicroscopy and electromyography of neuromuscular junctions in situ
Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2014 Nov;1(11):867-83

Primary location


Principal Investigator

Other people involved

Dr Paul Skehel (Co-I)

Professor Thomas Gillingwater (Co-I)

Dr Ross Jones (lecturer)

Dr Cornelia Roesl (postdoc)