Biogen Idec has entered into a research collaboration with premier academic and research institutions to sequence the genomes of up to 1,000 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an effort to gain a deeper understanding about the fundamental genetic causes of ALS.
Biogen Idec will fund the project at the laboratories of David Goldstein, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Genome Variation at Duke University, and Richard M. Myers, Ph.D., president and director of the Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology. The researchers will sequence the genomes of approximately 500 patients with ALS over the next two years, with an ultimate goal of sequencing 1,000 ALS genomes within five years.
The labs will work with several world-class researchers who have deep expertise and experience with ALS and the genes associated with the disease. The consortium will include Robert Brown, D.Phil., M.D., a neurologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who has devoted his career to identifying gene mutations that cause ALS; Aaron Gitler, Ph.D., a geneticist at Stanford University whose recent work has focused on risk factors associated with ALS; Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at Columbia University studying changes in gene expression associated with ALS; Guy Rouleau, M.D., Ph.D., a neuro-geneticist at the University of Montreal with expertise in gene identification in multiple neurological diseases; and Neil Shneider, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist and neuroscientist in the Motor Neuron Center at Columbia University, whose work focuses on mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration in ALS.
"We are proud to collaborate with these distinguished academic and research institutions as part of our mission to discover and develop therapies for patients with ALS," said Tim Harris, Ph.D., senior vice president of translational medicine and biochemistry at Biogen Idec. "ALS is a devastating and deadly neurodegenerative disease, and there is an urgent need for effective therapies. This effort promises to yield a better understanding of the genetic underpinnings of the disease and possibly provide new targets for potential therapies."