A COUPLE from the North-East whose ten-year-old son has a fatal disease joined a lobby of Downing Street to plead for more funding for groundbreaking research.

Daniel Miller has duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic condition that leaves sufferers in a wheelchair by the age of nine and kills them by their early 20s.

His parents, Ian and Susan, say Daniel's condition has improved dramatically because of his treatment at the International Centre for Life, in Newcastle.

But scientists say the gene therapy research, which is carried out jointly with centres in London and Oxford, needs a £5m cash injection if a cure is to be found.

Yesterday, Mr and Mrs Miller were among nearly 200 people who handed in petitions, both at Number 10 and the Department of Health, ahead of a crunch meeting with ministers next week.

Mrs Miller, of Great Lumley, County Durham, said: "The treatment Daniel has received means he is still walking, 18 months after we were told he would be in a wheelchair.

"His quality of life is so much better, because his backbone is better, so he is breathing more easily and he could avoid a spinal operation.

"The work being done at Newcastle is fantastic and is drawing in consultants from around the world - and £5m is not a lot of money, really."

DMD, caused by a rare genetic error only identified in 1986, is the biggest genetic child-killer and claims the lives of more than 100 boys a year in the UK.

Last year, the Government announced a £1.6m research grant, to be shared between the laboratories in Newcastle, London and Oxford.

On Tuesday, campaigners will meet health ministers to press the case for a further £5m that scientists hope will allow them to find a cure.