Kleiner Family Research Initiative At Project ALS Aims For Answers

Project ALS & Pennsylvania Family Target Two Areas of Promise for Those with the Neurodegenerative Disease ALS

Mar 10, 2016, 09:00 ET from Project ALS

NEW YORK, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Project ALS announced a new research initiative, The Kleiner Family Research Initiative at Project ALS, which will focus intensively on two areas of therapeutic promise for ALS patients.

The first area of focus is an aggressive, in-depth study of kenpaullone, a compound that has recently interested scientists for its ability to protect motor neurons, the very brain cells targeted for destruction in ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. With the leadership of the Project ALS research advisory board, The Kleiner Family Research Initiative will charge investigative teams at Harvard University and Columbia University with maximizing the beneficial effects of kenpaullone in a range of ALS laboratory models, and, it is hoped, human trials.

The second area of focus will attempt to answer the question: Is endogenous retrovirus an active agent in the ALS disease process? Recent studies have revealed a possible role for a family of endogenous retroviruses known as HERV-K, in ALS. The Kleiner Family Research Initiative is committed to uncovering the specifics of HERV-K involvement in the disease, and subsequent therapeutic strategies.

Project ALS co-founders, Valerie and Meredith Estess, announced the Kleiner Research Initiative at a New York breakfast event recognizing those who have raised significant funds to launch the targeted research. Lead donors to the Kleiner Research Initiative include A Date with a Plate, and Carol's Crew, both Philadelphia based efforts that have raised over $500k for Project ALS research.

"Project ALS is thrilled to launch this attack on ALS in honor of our dear friends Carol Kleiner, her husband Bob, and their children Meredith, Jennifer, and Andrew," said Meredith Estess, Project ALS president. "They are a formidable force. The Kleiners inspire us to higher heights in the search for treatments now."

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.