WASHINGTON, March 11, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Academy of Neurology and the Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association are awarding the 2015 Sheila Essey Award to Robert P. Bowser, PhD, from Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ, and Adriano Chio, MD, FAAN, from the University of Turin, Italy. The award recognizes significant research contributions in the search for the cause, prevention of and cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Bowser and Chio will receive the award at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015. The Annual Meeting is the world's largest gathering of neurologists with more than 12,000 attendees and more than 2,500 scientific presentations on the latest research advances in brain disease.
The $50,000 prize is given to continue ALS research. ALS is a motor neuron disease which is characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord leading to muscle weakness. People with ALS eventually become paralyzed and die from respiratory failure an average of three years after symptoms first appear.
For his award-winning work, Chio established the Peimonte registry to document and track many aspects of ALS, including genetic and environmental risks, progression, and survival rates. In particular, Chio was among the first to describe the increased risk of ALS among Italian soccer players, and the potential risk that physical activity and traumas may play in a person's risk of the disease. "The Piedmont registry has shown us that ALS is not simply one disease, but rather is a collection of diseases that look the same, which is a major step forward in our efforts to develop personalized treatment and effective medications to slow down the disease," Chio said. "I am greatly honored and thankful to receive the Sheila Essey Award. The award is a strong motivation to proceed with even more dedication toward the goal of a world without ALS," he added.
Dr. Bowser is receiving the award for his research on identifying ALS biomarkers in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of ALS patients. Biomarkers are anything that can be measured and used to determine a change in a person as a result of a disease. They can also help measure a disease's progression. "We have discovered a protein biomarker signature that distinguishes ALS patients from non-ALS patients," said Bowser. "The findings are helping us discover new ways by which ALS may initiate, and new targets to develop drugs to treat ALS patients."
Dr. Bower's work has also established new procedures for collecting and storing samples from patients. These procedures are now being used by other investigators across the country, and across the globe. "We've created a large bank of samples from which investigators can share samples that have been collected in the same way. This standardized way in which clinical research studies are performed have a direct impact on finding more effective treatments for ALS everywhere," he added.
Learn more about ALS at www.aan.com/patients.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 28,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
SOURCE American Academy of Neurology