NEW YORK, Jan. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Project ALS announced the Team Chris Combs Research Initiative at Project ALS. Team Chris Combs' initial $1M donation will kick-start promising research with direct therapeutic potential for people with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
The initial area of focus in the Combs Research Initiative is the establishment of a Preclinical Testing Core at Columbia University's Motor Neuron Center. Under the direction of Drs. Serge Przedborski and Hynek Wichterle, this facility—the first of its kind—will systematically screen and validate potential therapies in a wide range of ALS models, collaborating with academic labs and pharmaceutical companies to select top candidates to screen.
The Core has established a "fast track" for potential drugs that are already FDA approved for other diseases, and a multifaceted assessment of molecules and compounds that show outstanding effectiveness in laboratory models but require additional testing before human trials. With the Combs Research Initiative's support, three initial compounds—including two fast track drugs and one longer range study of a molecule—have been selected for comprehensive testing of efficacy, safety, brain penetrance, and target engagement.
"Chris Combs and his wife Gena are leading an unprecedented charge in the fight against ALS," said Valerie Estess, Project ALS director of research. "Their singular focus on bringing promising therapeutic targets to the clinic as fast as possible is accelerating the pace of ALS drug discovery."
Team Chris Combs' Hope Gala to Defeat ALS raised the initial $1M funding for the Team Chris Combs Research Initiative in September 2016. The Raleigh, NC-based group continues to bring extraordinary funding and awareness to Project ALS research in support of Chris Combs, former NC State baseball star and current associate director of the school's Wolfpack Club, and his family. Information about upcoming events in 2017, including a Concert for the Cure in the spring, another Hope Gala in the fall, and other efforts can be found at teamchriscombs.org.
"We are so thankful to have met & joined forces with the amazing Project ALS team. They have given us hope during tough times. We are excited to continue our fight against ALS, until there is a cure," said Chris' wife Gena Combs.
Project ALS is a non-profit 501(c)3 that identifies and funds the most promising scientific research that will lead to the first effective treatments and a cure for ALS.
ALS is a brain disease that is closely related to Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's. Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS targets brain cells called motor neurons. Motor neurons send messages from the brain to muscles throughout the body. In ALS, as motor neurons die, a person progressively loses the ability to walk, speak, swallow, and breathe. ALS affects adults of all ages, from teens to seniors, and is usually fatal within 2-5 years of diagnosis.
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SOURCE Project ALS