CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and TUCSON, Ariz., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) announced today that the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has committed $3.2 million to the Institute through its flagship ALS fundraising initiative, Augie's Quest. This new grant will fund several potential treatments being tested in the lab.
"TDI has been able to go farther and faster in its mission to discover and develop effective treatments for ALS as soon as possible thanks to the support it has received from MDA," says Steve Perrin, Ph.D., CEO and CSO of ALS TDI. "Our partnership with MDA has helped us to establish a foundation that paves the way for new discoveries, better powering our research that may lead to effective treatments for patients today."
MDA initiated a joint partnership with ALS TDI in 2007 to create the largest ALS drug discovery project in history; to date, MDA has awarded more than $31 million to ALS TDI.
"In its unprecedented commitment to finding and developing innovative drug targets, ALS TDI is penetrating the armor that has long surrounded ALS, moving us closer to finding effective therapies with the potential to save lives," says Steven M. Derks, MDA president and CEO. "MDA has been the world leader in funding ALS research and services for decades. We're confident that MDA's Augie's Quest's support of ALS TDI will yield positive results that will benefit the courageous families who are waging daily battles against this devastating disorder."
ALS TDI's integral research partnership with MDA was built on the foresight and understanding that the establishment of best practices for preclinical drug development requires significant commitment and infrastructure. With MDA's support, ALS TDI has been able to advance:
- two programs toward clinical development;
- research agreements or collaborations with many major pharmaceutical companies;
- greater understanding of potential novel disease-associated targets and pathways;
- more than a dozen additional compounds through the pipeline; and
- validation of new pre-clinical animal models of neurodegeneration.
Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto and his wife Lynne partnered with MDA to create Augie's Quest, designed to support fast-track research for ALS. Nieto received a diagnosis of ALS in 2005.
"We joined with MDA to create Augie's Quest in order to accelerate the quest for a cure for ALS, to transform despair into hope," says Nieto. "I'm proud of the progress we're making in unraveling the secrets of ALS and greatly encouraged by the work that's resulting from our historic partnership with ALS TDI."
The Nietos are co-chairs of MDA's ALS Division.
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and a cure for ALS and related muscle diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
Over the years, MDA has led the fight against ALS, investing $324 million in its ALS research, services and information programs. MDA currently funds more than 250 research projects worldwide. It also operates 200 clinics across the county, including 43 MDA/ALS Clinics.
The Association's unparalleled research, health care services, advocacy and education programs provide help and hope to more than 1 million Americans affected by ALS and the more than 40 other progressive neuromuscular diseases in MDA's program. MDA also facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases.
About Augie's Quest
Augie's Quest (augiesquest.org), MDA's ALS research initiative, is an aggressive, cure-driven effort singularly focused on finding treatments and a cure for ALS. The devastating disease affects more than 30,000 Americans.
Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto started Augie's Quest 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-chairs of MDA's ALS Division. Nieto received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005.
To date, Augie's Quest has raised more than $37 million for ALS research.
About the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI)
The mission of the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is to develop effective therapeutics that slow or stop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) as soon as possible for patients today. Focused on meeting this urgent unmet medical need, ALS TDI executes a robust target discovery program, while simultaneously operating the world's largest efforts to preclinically validate potential therapeutics, including a pipeline of dozens of small molecules, protein biologics, gene therapies and cell-based constructs. The world's first nonprofit biotech institute, ALS TDI has developed an industrial-scale platform, employs 30 professional scientists and evaluates dozens of potential therapeutics each year. ALS TDI collaborates with leaders in both academia and industry to accelerate ALS therapeutic development, including Biogen Idec, UCB, Aestus Therapeutics, MDA and RGK Foundation. ALS TDI is a 501(c)3 registered charitable nonprofit organization. For more information, please visit us online at www.als.net.
SOURCE ALS Therapy Development Foundation