MTV's "Diary of Facebook" Features ALS Patients

Mar 31, 2011, 10:00 ET from ALS Therapy Development Institute

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is pleased to announce today that three of its ALS Ambassadors partook in the filming of MTV's "Diary of Facebook," which premiered last night on MTV.  The "Diary of Facebook" is a behind-the-scenes special that captured never-before-seen "days in the life" of a Facebook technical engineer named Pedram and a consumer marketing employee named Erin, as well as interviews with founder Mark Zuckerberg. The episode brought to light various ways Facebook® has impacted people's lives.  

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"One year ago, I joined Facebook. I soon realized that I no longer had to remain a recluse. Facebook leveled my playing field. Aside from re-connecting with old friends from my past, I am now part of a new family -- the ALS community, who like me, have also found their voices," typed Tom Ohlson, an ALS patient who has lost his ability to speak or walk on his own due to the progressive neurodegenerative disorder.  Ohlson, diagnosed with ALS in October 2005, travelled with his wife and three children to Facebook HQ last month.

"I initially joined Facebook in college mainly to meet girls," remembered Corey Reich, a 24-year-old ALS patient, during his visit to Facebook.  "But today, I use it more to stay in touch with my friends from college. Facebook will also allow me to stay connected with friends and family if I lose the ability to walk or lose my voice due to ALS." Despite having ALS, Reich remains active in his hometown of Piedmont, Calif., where he mentors other young men as the Assistant Tennis Coach at Piedmont High School.  He and his family have raised more than $1.5 million for ALS research at ALS TDI to date.

"The opportunity to share our story, and our relationship with ALS TDI, with the wonderful team at Facebook rallied our community like never before.  We have renewed hope that a treatment will be found in our lifetime, and with the help from Facebook, we know anything is possible!" said S. Michele Farr, whose husband's family suffers from a genetic form of ALS.

Ohlson, Reich and Farr are all also members of the Young Faces of ALS (YFALS) campaign, which was created in 2010 to bring attention to the fact that ALS effects people of all ages (http://www.facebook.com/YoungFacesOfALS).

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease) is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder for which there are currently no known effective treatments or a cure. It is estimated that every 90 minutes someone else is diagnosed with ALS in the United States; however due to the lack of available treatments and the disease's inherent progressive nature, the population of patients in the U.S. remains around 40,000 with estimates of upwards of 500,000 worldwide. The cause of most cases of ALS is unknown, although researchers have identified several genetic mutations which account for approximately 20% of cases.

For more information on "Diary of Facebook," click here.

About ALS Therapy Development Institute

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.  Founded in 1999 as the world's first "nonprofit biotech," ALS TDI has developed an internationally recognized, industrial-scale platform to develop and test dozens of potential therapeutics each year. The Cambridge, Massachusetts based neurodegenerative research Institute collaborates with worldwide leaders from both academia and industry. For more information about the 501c3 registered non-profit Institute's current research pipeline and to take a virtual tour of its laboratory, please visit us online at www.als.net.

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

Media Contact: Robert A. Goldstein, ALS TDI, rgoldstein@als.net, 617-441-7295

SOURCE ALS Therapy Development Institute



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