ALS Association Grant Sustains HudsonAlpha Institute, Crestwood Medical Center Project

ALS Association Grant Sustains HudsonAlpha Institute, Crestwood Medical Center Project
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The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has received a $20,000 ALS Association grant to continue its research collaboration with Crestwood Medical Center in Alabama.

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.

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.
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Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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