CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and IRVINE, Calif., July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) and California Stem Cell, Inc.
(CSC) announced today a new collaboration aimed at advancing any potential
application of stem cells in treating ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
commonly known as Lou Gehrig's diseases. The new set of experiments will
begin in August 2008 and continue through the end of 2009. This effort is
the latest in the two groups' on-going partnership to understand how stem
cells, and their derivatives, may be used as part of a therapeutic strategy
to treat or cure the fatal neurodegenerative disease.
"It is no mystery to us in the ALS community that stem cells ought to
be looked at and considered by researchers. The work we are doing together
with California Stem Cell will help to make sure that we are leaving no
stone unturned in our mission to discover and develop an effective
treatment that will slow or stop ALS," said Sean Scott, president of ALS
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in progressive paralysis
and is considered fatal. The disease strikes typically without an
identifiable cause, indiscriminately affecting a new family every 90
minutes in the U.S. That incidence rate is similar to that of multiple
sclerosis, but the typical survival prognosis given to a new ALS patient is
only 2-5 years from their date of diagnosis. Currently, there is no known
cure for ALS and only one FDA-approved drug, with marginal efficacy, for
treating the disease.
"ALS TDI is a natural partner. Their expertise in preclinical research
focused on ALS is unparalleled. With ALS TDI we have access to a dedicated
and passionate group of experts that can help to fully understand how stem
cell derived products may play a role in a potential therapeutic for this
horrible disease," said Chris Airriess, chief operating officer for
California Stem Cell, Inc.
California Stem Cell recently presented the findings from the two
groups' previous collaboration during the International Society for Stem
Cell Research annual meeting June 11th in Philadelphia. In that experiment,
the two groups worked together to design and execute experiments aimed at
transplanting high purity motor neurons developed and manufactured by CSC,
into the spinal cords of mice with neuronal loss at ALS TDI.
The collaborations between ALS TDI and CSC are funded in part through a
major, three-year, $18 million funding and scientific partnership ALS TDI
entered into at the beginning of 2007 with the Muscular Dystrophy
Association (MDA) and its Augie's Quest Initiative.
About the ALS Therapy Development Institute
The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) (www.als.net), based in
Cambridge, Mass., operates the world's largest research and development
program focused exclusively on ALS. At ALS TDI, a staff of over 30
scientists and research technicians work on behalf of ALS patients to
discover and advance novel therapeutics for treating and ultimately curing
ALS. The nonprofit biotechnology institute excels in identifying novel
disease targets, discovering compounds that may act against these targets,
and screening potential treatments for clinical development.
About California Stem Cell, Inc.
California Stem Cell, Inc. is a privately held company focused on the
manufacturing of high-purity human cells for therapeutic development and
clinical application. Since its founding in 2005, CSC has developed and has
intellectual property surrounding methods for scalable production of human
motor neurons, neuronal progenitors, cardiac muscle and sino-atrial node
cells at its Irvine, Calif. facility. CSC is currently in the pre-clinical
development stage of stem cell based therapies for ALS, spinal muscular
atrophy (SMA), spinal cord injury (SCI) and coronary heart disease. For
more information, visit www.californiastemcell.com.
About Augie's Quest
Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto started Augie's Quest (www.augiesquest.org)
in conjunction with MDA's ALS Division. Nieto is co-founder and former
president of Life Fitness of Chicago, and chairman of Octane Fitness. He
and his wife, Lynne, serve as co-chairpersons of MDA's ALS Division. Nieto
received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005.
MDA (www.mda.org) is the world's largest provider of ALS services and
funder of ALS research. Over the years, it has expended almost $210 million
in this effort. It operates 225 neuromuscular disease clinics across the
country and 38 ALS-specific research and care centers.
CONTACT: Robert Goldstein of ALS TDI, +1-617-441-7295,
firstname.lastname@example.org; or Chris Airriess of California Stem Cell,
SOURCE ALS Therapy Development Foundation