Ionis Scholarship Will Provide Physical and Mental Wellness Programs to ALS Patients

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by Mary Chapman |

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A $25,000 Ionis Pharmaceuticals scholarship will help amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients in the San Diego, California, area participate in a host of integrative physical and mental wellness programs through Adapt Functional Movement Center.

The full range of personalized sessions will be provided online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Designed for caregivers as well as patients, the programs include group classes, massage therapy, meditation, and functional movement therapy.

The effort brings together Ionis, Adapt, and the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter.

“It’s incredibly important to empower people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest,” Steve Becvar, the chapter’s executive director, said in a press release. “The Ionis Hope Scholarship in support of ALS patients provides exactly that by partnering with the Adapt Functional Movement Center. Not only is Ionis a world leader in discovering effective treatments for ALS, they are leading the way to improve the lives of those living with and affected by ALS with this generous scholarship,” he said.

For functional movement therapy and mental health programs, Adapt is providing one-on-one sessions via the video conferencing service Zoom. To optimize effectiveness of its remote physical therapy sessions, Adapt also will offer coaching to caregivers. It also is providing weekly online group sessions.

Located in Carlsbad, California, the nonprofit Adapt center provides recovery and rehabilitation services to individuals locally and globally who have movement disabilities due to neurodegenerative disorders and injuries.

“We are extremely fortunate to be partnered with two great organizations to make an impact on people’s lives both through front-line therapeutics as well as integrative health, wellness, and lifestyle factors,” said John Monteith, Adapt executive director and founder. “It has always been our mission as an organization to provide the best in integrative recovery services to individuals who have chronic, life-altering conditions, and to do so without requiring them to tap into their precious financial resources. This scholarship enables us to do just that,” Monteith said.

Treatment candidates in the Ionis pipeline include the investigational therapy tofersen (BIIB067, formerly IONIS-SOD1Rx), which is being assessed, in partnership with Biogen, for safety and efficacy in a Phase 3 clinical trial (NCT02623699) for people with SOD1 gene-associated familial ALS. Other prospective therapies include ION541 for patients with sporadic forms of ALS (planned to enter clinical studies this year), and IONIS-C9Rx (BIIB078) for patients with mutations in the C9ORF72 gene, the most common cause of ALS.

“We know that sick people depend on us,” said Kristina Bowyer, Ionis vice president of patient advocacy. “It’s why we will never stop innovating to deliver breakthrough medicines that bring hope to patients with unmet needs. As members of the ALS community, we are honored to support patients and their families beyond the medicines that we develop, including through patient-centered programs such as the Ionis Hope Scholarship,” she said.

The ALS Association is the world’s largest private funder of ALS research.