The ALS Association

Media Contact:
Carrie Munk
The ALS Association
cmunk@alsa-national.org
571-319-3047

For details about the challenge contact:
Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A.
lucie@alsa-national.org

Mark Yard
Research Operations
The ALS Association
researchgrants@alsa-national.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

$1 Million Investment to Launch Grand Challenge to Develop a TDP43 Biomarker

Washington, D.C. (February 8, 2016) — The ALS Association, in partnership with ALS Finding a Cure, is pleased to announce the Grand Challenge to generate a biomarker to track TDP43 aggregation. The successful team(s) with the most developed plan will receive up to a $1 million investment.

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.

Transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43) is the primary protein aggregate (i.e. clumps of protein) found in the brain and spinal cord of people with ALS and in other neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), among others. Mutations in TDP43 are also a genetic cause of ALS. Normally, TDP43 is located in the nucleus of a cell. In the disease state, TDP43 aggregates accumulate in the cytoplasm (the area surrounding the nucleus). Abnormalities in TDP43 protein trafficking between the nucleus and cytoplasm have been implicated in the disease process. How TDP43 is linked to clinical disease and whether TDP43 cytoplasmic aggregates are toxic remains unclear.

The Grand Challenge will lay the groundwork to develop a positron emission tomography (PET) tracer specific for TDP43 aggregates to use as an ALS biomarker. Once developed, its use would be widespread from tracking TDP43 aggregation during the disease process to enhancing ALS clinical trials targeting TDP43.

There are two phases of the Challenge. In the first phase, grants of up to $1 million will be awarded to the team(s) with the most developed plan and the appropriate materials to develop the TDP43 tracer. The second phase, ensures that if the first phase is successful, funds will be provided to further develop the PET tracer towards the clinic.

Research teams that qualify for the Challenge, but are not limited to include the following: TDP, preclinical biology, radiochemistry, PET, discovery and medicinal chemistry groups. Interested groups can find full details of the Challenge here. Letters of intent and abstracts are due March 22, 2016. The Challenge Committee will issue requests for full proposals to the groups with the most promising proposals on April 11, 2016. Full proposals are due May 20, 2016, with winners announced in July 2016.

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.

About ALS Finding a Cure Foundation
The sole purpose of the ALS Finding a Cureā„  Foundation is funding research to find a cure. The foundation partnered with the ALS Association and GE Healthcare to accelerate therapy development by funding therapies ready for people today and breaking down barriers to success. Our goal is to translate funding into cutting-edge development tools, provide an open platform for neurological research material, understand disease heterogeneity, and promote early detection for those affected by ALS. For more information about the ALS Finding a Cure Foundation, visit our website at www.alsfindingacure.org.

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