Cytokinetics, Inc., a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing first-in-class muscle activators as potential treatments for debilitating diseases, recently received a grant worth $1.5 million from The ALS Association. The funding will be crucial to gather clinical data and plasma samples to further ALS biomarker studies in VITALITY-ALS, a Phase III clinical study using tirasemtiv, a groundbreaking skeletal muscle activator.
Cytokinetics, the ALS Association, and the Barrow Neurological Institute will be working together to allow plasma samples derived from this study to be added to the Northeastern ALS Consortium (NEALS) Repository, a resource for ALS biomarker studies.
“We are grateful to The ALS Association and everyone who donated to the Ice Bucket Challenge for this grant to assist the funding of VITALITY-ALS and our collaboration with Barrow Neurological Institute for biomarker research,” said Robert I. Blum, Cytokinetics’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “This collaboration is an extraordinary opportunity to advance the development of tirasemtiv as well as scientific understanding of biomarkers that underlie the progression of ALS at the molecular level.”
“Biomarker discovery is a major priority for ALS research, and we have recently witnessed important progress in this field,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. “We are pleased to contribute to this unique collaboration between The Association, industry and academia to progress our shared mission to improve the lives of people living with ALS through the advancement of our knowledge of ALS and through the development of potential novel treatments.”
Newly-launched VITALITY-ALS (Ventilatory Investigation of Tirasemtiv and Assessment of Longitudinal Indices after Treatment for a Year in ALS), is a multi-national, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that aims to analyze the effects of tirasemtiv compared to placebo on slow vital capacity and other bases of respiratory function in ALS patients. Researchers will obtain plasma samples and longitudinal clinical data from the study’s participants, which will then be added into the NEALS Repository for the benefit of ongoing and future research on ALS biomarkers.
“VITALITY-ALS is the first industry-sponsored clinical trial in which plasma samples from patients with ALS are being collected and shared with the ALS research community ,” said Jeremy M. Shefner, M.D., Ph.D., Lead Investigator of VITALITY-ALS, Professor and Chair of Neurology at Barrow Neurological Institute, and Professor and Executive Chair of Neurology at the University of Arizona, Phoenix. “It is especially gratifying when all of our respective interests align to serve our patients living with ALS and their caregivers.”