Keira Knightley and actor/director David Morrissey have become Patrons of the SMA Trust, the UK charity funding research into Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA is a genetic disease which is responsible for taking more lives of babies, toddlers and children than any other inherited condition.

Both Keira and David know families affected by this devastating condition and have chosen to become Patrons of the charity to help draw attention to the disease. The SMA Trust is the only UK charity solely dedicated to funding research into SMA. Keira has said of her recent decision to become a Patron, “I know there is presently no cure or treatment for SMA. Many babies with a certain type of this disease will not live to see their second birthday. Research is the only hope for these families.”

Researchers found the gene for the disease in 1990 and since then effective treatment has become tantalizingly close. More money is now needed to build the momentum of existing research to develop effective treatments. Both Patrons will be working closely with the charity to launch a new fundraising campaign, called Momentum, in 2011 to raise £2million. David Morrissey has said of this campaign, “This cruel disease has the effect of trapping normal, lively children in progressively limiting bodies. More money for more research is the only way of helping these children”.

SMA is a muscle wasting disease that affects thousands of people in the UK. 1 in every 40 people is a carrier of the defective gene that causes the condition. Up to 50% of the most severely diagnosed cases result in death by the age of two. The SMA Trust was set up as a charity in 2003 to fund research into a cure.

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