Washington, D.C., (July 14, 2015) — Today, The ALS Association is pleased to announce its support of 58 new research grants totaling $11,621,638 to find treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (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.
“The global outpouring of support we witnessed during and after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has provided The Association with an unprecedented opportunity to advance ALS research on every front,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. “These new awards represent some of the most promising research being conducted by the world’s top scientists and it is a great privilege to be able to direct donor dollars to support these incredible efforts.”
The ALS Association makes its research award decisions with the help of a number of Scientific Review Committees made up of individuals with expertise specific to the programs being considered to ensure the feasibility, novelty, relevance to ALS, and scientific merit of each project. The review committees recommend those projects appropriate for funding and final recommendations are approved by The ALS Association Board of Trustees. The Association received over 180 full applications for review.
The research awards announced today include investigator-initiated grants, drug development contracts, Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowships and support of the NEALS/TREAT ALS™ Clinical Trials Network. Descriptions can be found below and a full list with dollar amounts can be found here.
Investigator-initiated grants draw on the knowledge of diverse experts throughout the world whose efforts are all dedicated to advancing the search for new ALS treatments. The ALS Association receives applications and focuses its funding on five key areas of research: genes, models and mechanisms, biomarkers, drug development, and clinical trials.
Drug Development Contracts
Drug development contracts are milestone-driven awards designed to rapidly bring the most promising potential therapies closer to clinical trials. Many of the contracts are in partnership with industry. Academic-industry partnerships are invaluable to drive ALS treatment approaches more rapidly to the clinic.
Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowships
The Association offers The Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship for ALS Research Award. Founded by the Safenowitz family through the The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter in memory of Mr. Safenowitz, who died of ALS in 1998, these awards encourage and facilitate promising young scientists to enter the ALS field. Fellows work with a senior mentor and receive extensive exposure to the ALS research community through meetings and presentations.
NEALS/TREAT ALS™ Clinical Trials Network
The Association will continue to fund the NEALS/TREAT ALS™ Clinical Trials Network, a joint project with the Northeast ALS Consortium, a nationwide group of clinical researchers dedicated to advancing discovery and testing of new therapies for ALS.
On its website, The ALS Association has committed to spend $77 million on ALS research out of the $115 million donated through the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. New projects and initiatives will be announced as soon as projects are reviewed and approved and listed 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.