Research Budget for ALS in Canada Rises to Historic $15 Million Investment

Malika Ammam, PhD avatar

by Malika Ammam, PhD |

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On Nov. 19, ALS Societies across Canada and the ALS Canada Research Program in partnership with Brain Canada announced results from this year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as well as the new list of grant recipients from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research competitions held in 2015.

ALS is a disease that involves a gradual loss of structure and function of motor neurons. The loss leads to muscle weakness that results in difficulties in walking, swallowing, and talking. ALS affects approximately 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians, with an estimate care cost of $150,000 and $250,000 per ALS patient. To support daily care of Canadians living with ALS, funds allocated to research through the ALS Canada Research Program and additional funds raised through the Ice Bucket Challenge play important roles in funding ALS research in Canada.

This year, a total of $15 million is being invested in ALS research, which represents a substantial increase in the research budget. A total of 34 projects representing 56 research investigators from 15 universities at seven provinces across Canada will benefit from the increase. Each will receive between $75,000 and $2.9 million to investigate projects that are considered promising in moving ALS research forward.

“We are committed to funding the most promising research through the ALS Canada Research Program, to make ALS a treatable disease,” Tammy Moore, CEO of the ALS Society of Canada, said in a press release. “Never before have we had the financial resources to be able to fund multi-collaborative research projects across leading academic institutions to the extent we can today, it is because of the generosity of Canadians who embraced the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the investment from the federal government’s Canada Brain Research Fund through Brain Canada. This important research brings hope to the 3,000 Canadians living with ALS today, and the people who will be diagnosed in the future.”

“Brain Canada is proud to partner with the ALS Societies of Canada on their research program,” added Inez Jabalpurwala, President and CEO, Brain Canada Foundation. “Through this partnership, we have been able to attract researchers from different disciplines and institutions whose expertise covers a range of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Overall, the funding will allow experts in ALS to investigate the various aspects of this complex disease, improve diagnostic methods and prevention, and accelerate the discovery of therapies and cures. According to the organizations involved, while the increased investment in ALS research is a critical step forward, it is important to maintain ongoing investments in the future to make ALS a treatable and not terminal illness.

“We are pleased to be able to make these historical investments today, but it is critical to continue to raise significant funds in 2016 to support the ALS Canada Research Program so we can build on the momentum of discoveries we expect from these projects,” states Tammy Moore. “Canada is positioned as a leader in ALS research, consistently in the top five countries for ALS discoveries and the ALS Canada Research Program has been a critical contributor to that success.”

More information on the research projects that are being funded as part of the $15 million investment can be found here.