Called “Impacting ALS,” the project’s goal is to identify genetic changes that contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with the overarching goal of learning more about how ALS works and developing better treatments.
The funding will allow the enrollment of additional patients who, as part of their research contribution, receive genetic testing and results.
“Hopefully, in understanding some of the biology behind ALS, we’ll be able to understand different avenues of how this disease happens, what causes it, and eventually, be able to find targets that can be useful for therapeutics and different treatments,” said Richard M. Myers, PhD, HudsonAlpha president and science director, in a press release. “We are grateful to work with Crestwood and ALS patients right here in Huntsville for this project.”
To date, the project has enrolled and returned genetic results to about 50 patients from the Crestwood ALS Care Clinic, Alabama’s sole ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. Such centers offer evidence-based, multidisciplinary ALS care that meets the organization’s clinical care and research standards, participates in ALS research, and successfully completes a comprehensive site review.
“Crestwood is proud to have strong relationships with the ALS chapter and our patients who are battling ALS,” said Pam Hudson, MD, Crestwood Medical Center CEO. “We are excited to collaborate with HudsonAlpha on this project to better understand and treat this disease which will allow us to help improve the quality of life for ALS patients.”
The center also is a Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS) site. The goal of NEALS is to swiftly translate scientific advances into clinical investigations and new ALS therapies.
“Our mission is to connect those living with ALS to research,” said Sherry Kolodziejczak, occupational therapist and ALS Crestwood Care Clinic director. “The collaboration between Crestwood ALS Care Clinic and HudsonAlpha has provided the opportunity to bring research to our local community.”
One ALS patient, Bryan Stone, a NEALS ambassador for the Crestwood ALS Care Clinic, is glad to see research being conducted locally.
“Most trials and studies are conducted more than four hours from north Alabama, and as our ALS progresses, travel becomes difficult,” said Stone, of Sylacauga, Alabama. “This study allows us to participate and to engage in a research project where we are informed of our genetic results. … Thank you HudsonAlpha and Crestwood ALS Clinic of Excellence for this opportunity.”
The project leverages cutting-edge technology and HudsonAlpha scientists’ genomic expertise in hopes of better understanding the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects as many as 20,000 U.S. residents. A large number of genetic mutations are already associated with ALS. Such mutations do not directly cause ALS, but they can increase a person’s risk of disease development.
The nonprofit HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology develops and applies scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. It’s become a global leader in genetics and genomics research.
Recently, Institute scientists were part of a multicenter research team that sought to identify new genetic variants in people with neurodegenerative diseases. The study found that rare variations in the TET2 gene may double a person’s risk of such diseases, including ALS.
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