Johns Hopkins University’s Robert Packard Center for ALS Research, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Regenerative Medicine Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital Neurological Clinical Research Institute have launched an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research project: Answer ALS is the largest single coordinated and comprehensive effort to end ALS.
ALS is a devastating, progressive and fatal neuromuscular illness for which there is no effective treatment. In ALS, gradual degeneration of motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causes increased difficulty swallowing and breathing, and eventually leads to paralysis. A new person is diagnosed with ALS every 90 minutes in the U.S.
Director of the Brain Science Institute and the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins University and the Executive Director of Answer ALS Dr. Jeffrey Rothstein said, “This project will bring together world-renowned ALS research scientists to work against an aggressive timeline for understanding, treating and eventually finding a cure for this disease. The substantial initial funding from these generous supporters is a critical step forward in our effort to provide hope to those affected by ALS.”
The project will create the largest and most comprehensive foundation of ALS data ever amassed, encompassing clinical, chemical, genetic, protein, historical and biological data from an enormous sampling of ALS patients in the U.S. In collaboration with machine learning and big data technology, the data will be mined to uncover ALS causes, subtypes, pathways gone awry and drug targets. This will establish a large and critical foundation for new clinical trials, develop new ways to categorize patients to identify specific druggable pathways and subtype biomarkers and disease pathophysiology to aid not only in early diagnosis of the disease, but also to monitor the efficacy of newly developed treatments.
This research project also could potentially provide deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.