Latest Gift from Blazeman Foundation Raises Commitment to ALS Research to Nearly $250,000
Foundation for ALS has announced its most recent gift to fund research into Amyotrophic
Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, raising its total commitment to nearly $250,000.
The Massachusetts-based family foundation is providing
$30,000 to help continue a line of research by the ALS Research Group, led by Carol Milligan, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and anatomy, and
director of the ALS Translational Science Unit.
The research group is looking for ways to treat ALS,
also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The current line of research has shown that
the use of “heat shock” proteins, which help control muscle movement, delayed
the onset of ALS symptoms and extended survival times in mice. Heat shock
proteins help prevent the destruction of motor neurons that can result in a
number of neurological diseases including ALS.
“Developing effective therapeutic
strategies is a long process that grows in scale until eventually you have a first
clinical trial with patients,” Milligan said. “But it all starts in a
laboratory with preliminary studies to test the merit of an idea in preclinical
studies. Finding the money for that kind of study can be tough—someone has to
take a chance on your work.
“The Blazeman Foundation has been
critical to helping us move this project along. If we are successful during
this phase, we will be in a position to begin discussions with the Food and Drug
Administration and plan a first clinical trial.”
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that
affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from
the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout
the body. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and
control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively
affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally
paralyzed, unable to even breathe on their own. The progressive degeneration of
the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death.
The Blazeman Foundation was started by Bob and Mary
Ann Blais in memory of their son, Jonathan "Blazeman" Blais, a
triathlete who was diagnosed with ALS at age 33 and later died of the disease.
The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about
ALS by leveraging the energy, commitment and compassion of the multi-sport
community, and to raise the necessary funds to be directed into leading-edge
scientific research to find treatments and an eventual cure for ALS. The
foundation seeks to fund promising research projects that no one else is
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