Harvard Medical School and Project A.L.S. join forces to target ALS research


Boston, MA - Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Project A.L.S., a non-profit organization that funds research seeking effective treatments and a cure for ALS, have agreed to join forces to advance ALS research. Across Harvard, they will identify and pursue unique research opportunities for understanding and treating ALS, and will fundraise toward a projected two-year, multi-million dollar goal in support of that research.

Through their new collaboration, HMS and Project A.L.S. are teaming up together to accelerate progress toward mutual goals.

"We founded Project A.L.S. in 1998, aiming to put the first strong medicine into place," said Meredith Estess, president of Project A.L.S., a nimble, young organization that actively recruits new ideas and renowned scientists to ALS. "We learned that the fastest way to our goal was recruiting the best and brightest researchers throughout science and technology, and uniting them in true collaboration. For that reason we're thrilled about our new relationship with Harvard Medical School. This initiative promises to help us realize our translational goals faster."

"The mission of HMS is to create and nurture a community of the best people committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease," said HMS dean, Dr. Joseph B. Martin. "This new collaboration with Project A.L.S. is one way to help advance the Medical School's mission," he said.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and motor neuron disease, is a progressive, fatal disorder related to Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's diseases. There are no effective treatments for ALS.

The new initiative will focus on four areas of research:

  • the genetics of ALS susceptibility;
  • stem cell therapy;
  • drug discovery; and * new approaches for treatment delivery to the central nervous system.

    Guiding the new initiative is longtime ALS researcher Dr. Robert Brown, HMS professor of neurology, director of the Day Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a member of the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair (HCNR).

    HCNR will manage the new initiative. Launched in 2001 to speed translational biomedical neuroscience, HCNR has brought together neuroscientists and neurology researchers working at HMS, its affiliated teaching hospitals, and throughout Harvard. Its strategy is to rapidly apply basic neuroscience discoveries to clinical needs, with an ultimate objective of reducing the impact of neurodegenerative disease, such as ALS.

    "At the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair, we believe that the fastest way to develop therapies for neurodegenerative diseases is through collaborative translational research," said HCNR director, Dr. Adrian J. Ivinson. "Too many current treatments for neurodegenerative disease tackle only the symptoms. Our translational research seeks cures that strike at the cause of the disease.

    "Our alliance with Project A.L.S. reinforces our commitment to open collaboration and will help us reach our shared goals," he said.

    Source: Eurekalert & others

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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