NEW YORK, Oct. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) and Target ALS announced a groundbreaking partnership and call for proposals to identify treatments and biomarkers for FTD and ALS. These two devastating, progressive diseases are now understood to overlap in genetic causes and biological mechanisms.
At the center of our partnership is a $5 million multi-year grant-making initiative that will spur collaboration and form research consortia comprised of scientists from academia and the pharmaceutical/biotech industry. These consortia will work to discover, validate, and develop specific candidate drug targets or candidate biomarkers that may translate into new therapeutic strategies or validated biomarkers for ALS and FTD.
"This is an exciting opportunity to expand the FTD/ALS drug and biomarker development pipeline rapidly by fostering collaboration among scientists from academia and the pharma/biotech industry," said AFTD's Chief Executive Officer, Susan L-J Dickinson. "We're proud to take this crucial step with Target ALS and the scientific communities we support, working towards viable treatments and accurate diagnoses of ALS and FTD."
The partnership is partially modeled after an unprecedented and highly successful grant-making initiative launched in 2016 by Target ALS to build collaboration between academic and industry scientists. In the last three years, four of the five funded consortia developed ground-breaking therapeutic approaches.
"This request for proposals represents a major milestone for our organization and proof of our impact, having already introduced a collaborative approach that infused new energy to the search for viable treatments for ALS," said Target ALS' Chief Executive Officer, Manish Raisinghani. "This is an exciting partnership with AFTD as it enables us to extend our model and impact for both ALS and adjacent diseases like FTD."
In addition to joint grant-making, this partnership will enable AFTD-funded fellows with ALS-focused projects to access scientific tools and resources provided by Target ALS with minimal cost. Together, AFTD and Target ALS will also organize special joint research meetings for their respective scientific communities over the next two years.
Background on ALS and FTD/Areas of Overlap Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) is the most common dementia for people under 60. It represents a group of neurodegenerative disorders, characterized by progressive changes in behavior, personality, language and/or movement. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is caused by the death of motor neurons—nerve cells that control voluntary muscles. A continuum between the two diseases can be characterized on clinical, imaging, and pathological grounds. The recent discovery that mutation of the C9orf72 gene is the most common genetic cause of both disorders—as well as increasing awareness that some individuals face a diagnosis of FTD-ALS spectrum disorder—offer further evidence of this continuum. Today, there is no known cure for either disease—a reality that both organizations are dedicated to addressing through all of our efforts.
ABOUT AFTD AFTD envisions a world with compassionate care, effective support, and a future free of FTD. Research is core to achieving every aspect of that vision. AFTD drives leading-edge research programs that stimulate young scientists to focus on FTD and evaluate and pioneer new ideas to advance the science. AFTD grants are awarded in support of the best science, worldwide. We use grant funding to stimulate new partnerships with other leaders targeting dementia and neurodegenerative disease, recognizing that a breakthrough targeting one of these conditions could benefit families facing any of them in the future.
ABOUT Target ALS Founded in 2013 by former New York City Deputy Mayor, Dan Doctoroff, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Target ALS is a non-profit organization focused on fostering collaboration to accelerate ALS drug discovery and development. Our Innovation Ecosystem—a radically different approach to medical research—overcomes barriers and brings together the right people, funding, and critical resources to drive the development of breakthrough therapies for ALS.
SOURCE The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration