The money ringfenced for motor neurone disease research from Kevin Sinfield's '7 in 7' marathon challenge has now doubled after a medical research charity agreed to match it.
Sinfield's efforts raised £2.2million for the MND Association in total in support of his friend and former Leeds team-mate Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with the condition in December 2019.
Of that funding, £500,000 was targeted directly to research and LifeArc, a medical research charity, has now matched it, to boost research funding by £1m in total.
Sinfield said: "This is fantastic news and an amazing contribution from LifeArc. When we set out to complete the 7 in 7 Challenge we hoped to raise awareness and funds to support the MND community but it is wonderful to see the inspiration it has given people and organisations, like LifeArc, so they too can support the need for more research.
"We have seen over the last year the vital work that can be done by researchers and scientists when they are given the resources they need.
"MND is not incurable, it has just been under-funded and our hope – like that of everyone affected by this brutal disease including Rob – is that this money will make a real difference and help find the breakthrough we all desperately want."
Every day in the UK six people are diagnosed with the disease, which targets the nerves which control movement. Half will die within two years of diagnosis.
The funding will support research into developing new treatments and the repurposing of existing drugs which are used to treat other conditions.
Dr Brian Dickie, director of research development at the MND Association, said: "Our understanding of the causes of MND has improved dramatically over the last two decades but clinicians are still unable to offer their patients any truly effective treatments.
"We have to turn this new knowledge into potential new treatments if we are to offer people with the condition and their families real hope.
"We are so grateful to LifeArc for this generous contribution and are looking forward to working with them to identify projects which have a real chance of making a difference to our community in the coming years.
"Everybody who heard about Kevin's magnificent effort on behalf of his mate and team-mate, Rob, was so moved. Just months later his efforts are building hope in the most practical way for thousands of people affected by this devastating condition."
Sinfield said last month that he was planning a new fund-raising initiative, suggesting it could be a seven-day walk over a "crazy distance", ideally with as many participants as possible within Covid-19 restrictions.
"Obviously we need to be Covid-secure, but we would like to think at the back end of the year that those bigger type of events would be able to go ahead and we want to get people involved," he said.
"With that, it becomes so much more powerful."
The MND Association announced last month that Sinfield would also be participating in the London Marathon in October to raise additional funds for the charity.