Thanks to the summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge donations, the ALS Association will be tripling the amount of money it spends on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. The funds also will support the association’s Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence, which provide evidence-based, multi-disciplinary ALS care and services in a supportive atmosphere with an emphasis on hope and quality of life.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure and no life-prolonging treatments for the disease.
The Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team approach to care that has been proven to both extend and improve the quality of life for those living with ALS. In addition, the centers actively participate in ALS-related research.
In October, the ALS Association announced it was supporting six different programs and initiatives designed to expedite the search for treatments and a cure for ALS. Four of these projects involve global research cooperative alliances that would not have moved forward without the funding from the ALS Association and the matching donations it received.
In addition, the association launched a new collaborative initiative that will bring the ALS community together to establish an ALS drug development guidance document. No such document exists today, which creates uncertainty and risk for what already is a difficult, lengthy and costly process. This initiative will incentivize ALS drug development, reduce obstacles and provide new opportunities to accelerate research and bring new treatments from the bench to the bedside.