The ALS Association announced today that it has awarded 21 new research grants totaling nearly $3.5 million to find treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The grants were awarded to scientists from laboratories located in nine different states in the United States as well as from the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Switzerland, Israel and Australia.
These awards are part of its Translational Research Advancing Therapy (TREAT ALS™) program, which funds a diverse portfolio of ALS research, including 98 ongoing projects.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that modestly extends survival.
"These new grants will spur development of new models and new understanding of the ALS disease process, all focused on developing effective therapies for ALS," said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. "This vital work could not be done without the chapters of The ALS Association and the generous support of our donors."
In addition to Investigator-Initiated Awards for established investigators, The Association also offers The Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship for ALS Research Award. The program was made possible through generosity of the Safenowitz family through the Greater New York Chapter of The ALS Association and is in memory of Mr. Safenowitz, who died of ALS in 1998. These awards are to encourage and facilitate promising young scientists to enter the ALS field.
The Association is also continuing major funding for The Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS) to support the TREAT ALS NEALS Clinical Trials Network. Ongoing support for this initiative has enabled the development of the most extensive clinical trials network in the field of ALS, including investigator training, pilot trial support, and patient/family ambassador education. In the coming year, the partnership will expand to include the development of infrastructure to support a centralized institutional review board to reduce delays in the start-up of ALS clinical trials.
All of these new grants will support research to understand the causes of ALS, to develop new treatments, and to create tools that will help improve clinical trials of new therapies. A list of all the awardees along with descriptions of each research proposal is available here.
These research awards are made possible through generous donors and from chapters of The ALS Association. Chapters continually work with certified centers and clinics, as well as providing resources and services, to offer the best care to people living with ALS and their families. They also advance important local and national public policy initiatives and support ongoing funding to the Association's global cutting edge research program into new treatments and ultimately, a cure for ALS.