Biomarker Test of ALS Progression, Supported by MDA, Expected in US by Year’s End

Biomarker Test of ALS Progression, Supported by MDA, Expected in US by Year’s End

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has awarded an MDA Venture Philanthropy (MVP) grant worth $233,200 to Iron Horse Diagnostics to support the development of a biomarker test for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the United States.

The prognostic test, which was released in Europe in June under a license agreement between Iron Horse and Euroimmun, measures specific protein biomarkers in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid that indicate the presence of a neurdegenerative disease like ALS.

A better prognostic test would help to aid clinical trials of potential ALS therapies by improving patient selection and enrollment into them, so as to speed work done on potential treatments, and the accuracy of estimates of disease progression in patients made by physicians.

Its U.S. launch is expected by year’s end, the MDA states in a press release.

“MDA is excited to support this work at Iron Horse Diagnostics, with the goal to address one of the most pressing challenges to ALS drug development — the need for prognostic biomarkers,” said Amanda M. Haidet-Phillips, scientific program officer at the MDA.

“In addition to its usefulness in planning and conducting clinical trials, the prognostic test under development at Iron Horse could be helpful for individuals and families affected by ALS as they prepare for financial and life planning purposes and wish to have this additional information,” she said.

To date, MDA has directed more than $363 million to ALS research and support services. Currently, the organization is funding 38 active ALS grants, worth $9.6 million. In total, the MDA is funding 150 ALS research projects worldwide.

MVP is the organization’s drug development program,  created to fund the discovery and clinical application of treatments and potential cures for neuromuscular disorders.

“MDA funding is critical to our efforts to finalize development of our biomarkers and to launch the test to market,” said Andreas Jeromin, Iron Horse’s chief scientific officer. “Our prognostic test will be an essential tool to enhance drug development for ALS.”

Iron Horse, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, specializes in developing diagnostic and prognostic tests for neurologic conditions like ALS.

One comment

  1. Charlie says:

    “Our prognostic test will be an essential tool to enhance drug development for ALS.”

    This is an ambitious statement which some less charitable than I would claim to be ridiculous or BS.

    Knowing that ALS has struck does not enhance drug development as Riluzole and Radicava are the only available treatments and even when applied early in the progression do not discriminate between slow or fast progression. What I mean is, when a new case of ALS is diagnosed and the patient receives say Riluzole, no-one ie no-one, can determine if Riluzole is slowing progression or if the patient has the slow-progression type of ALS.
    This would also be the case with any newly approved drug eg Tirasimtev, if it is approved. The current medical inability to determine if a patient has slow progression plays into the hands of the Pharmas as they can claim efficacy where none exists.

    I am disappointed that so much effort goes into earlier diagnosis as when all is said and done, treatments, both existing and possibly soon-arriving are only aimed at slowing progression.

    The efforts of researchers would be far better employed at finding a REVERSAL technique. That’s what we ALS families seek – because we know that once diagnosis is in place, even if this happens very quickly, the disease is already on the down-ramp.

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