The ALS Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., (January 21, 2016) — The Department of Defense (DOD) recently announced the FY15 ALS Research Program (ALSRP) awardees. The ALSRP is guided by a vision to improve treatment and find a cure for ALS. Through its award mechanisms and funding recommendations, the ALSRP specifically supports innovative preclinical research targeting development of new therapeutics for ALS.
ALS 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. For unknown reasons, veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. There is no cure, and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) modestly extends survival.
Studies supported by the DOD, Department of Veteran Affairs, National Institutes of Health, Harvard University and the Institute of Medicine among others, repeatedly have found that military veterans, regardless of branch or era of service, are approximately twice as likely to die from Lou Gehrig’s Disease as those who have not served in the military. In order to support our nation’s military heroes in the fight against ALS, The ALS Association and advocates across the country worked with Congress and the DOD to establish the ALSRP in FY 2007. The ALRP is promoting translational research and is specifically designed to find new treatments for ALS, a disease for which only one FDA approved drug exists, Riluzole, which only extends a person’s with ALS life by a few months.
The ALSRP is dedicated to funding translational research to discover new treatments for ALS. The Therapeutic Development Award supports projects that explore post-discovery, preclinical development of ALS therapeutics. The Therapeutic Development Award was given to Antonius Bunt, M.B.A. from Izumi Biosciences, Inc. The Therapeutic Idea Award looks for applications that support hypothesis-driven drug discovery efforts focused on ALS therapeutics. The following investigators received the Therapeutic Idea Award: Claudio Hetz, Ph.D., Biomedical Neuroscience Institute; Brent Stockwell, Ph.D., Columbia University; Gong Chen, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University; Jacob Robinson, Ph.D., Rice University; Evan Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; Keith Gagnon, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University; Joseph Puglisi, Ph.D., Stanford University; and Justin Yerbury, Ph.D., University of Wollongong. The awardees list is found on the DOD website.
The ALSRP is supporting the best science as funding is provided on a competitive grant basis and projects are peer reviewed. The first tier of evaluation is a scientific peer review of applications measured against established criteria for determining scientific merit. The second tier is a programmatic review, conducted by the Integration Panel (IP), composed of leading scientists, clinicians and ALS consumer advocates (ALS patients themselves and their family members), which recommends funding based on scientific merit, portfolio balance, and relevance to program goals. Full details of the program are found here. Importantly, the program is a collaborative effort that includes researchers from the DOD, Veterans Affairs (VA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the private sector partnering together to avoid duplication and ensure that scarce resources are provided to the most promising projects. Chief Scientist of The ALS Association, Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., is a current member and a past chair of the IP. A list of the FY15 IP is found here and a list of the FY15 peer review participants is found here.
About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.alsa.org.