MDA Grants Include Research Projects for ALS and Other Diseases

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Arrest and Extinguish ALS

The Muscular Dsytrophy Association (MDA) awarded 13 new grants totaling $2.6 million to find treatments for neuromuscular disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The 13 grants are divided into three types: Five grants were awarded to recognized, independent researchers; Five development grants were awarded to early-career scholars, and; three research infrastructure grants were awarded to fund the development of tools, techniques or services that facilitate therapy development.

All projects will seek to understand what causes a disease or what processes drive disease progression, aiming to identify possible strategies for new treatments.

Projects that will focus on ALS include:

  • Lukasz Sznajder, PhD, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Florida, wants to develop disease-specific blood biomarkers for diseases that are caused by an abnormal expansion of particular stretches of DNA, known as “repeat expansion diseases,” such as ALS.
  • Kristi Wharton, PhD, professor of biology at Brown University, will aim to identify new drug targets for ALS that might be developed in a timely manner using resources already available at Pfizer. This investigation is part of a Brown/Pfizer collaboration.
  • Fatima Gasset-Rosa, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of California, was awarded an MDA development grant totaling $180,000 over three years to study the role of abnormal TDP-43 protein in ALS.

Other grant projects include the MDA/Target ALS Foundation ALS Biomarker Collaboration, which will receive $100,000. The MDA and Target ALS Foundation already had signed a strategic partnership in 2016 aimed at advancing ALS research and therapy development.

The remaining nine grants include two projects on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), one on myofibrillar myopathies (MFM), one on congenital myopathies, one on congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD), one on Friedreich’s ataxia, one on limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), one on inclusion-body myositis (IBM) and one on Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).

“MDA is pleased to announce our support of more than a dozen new research projects as part of our efforts to keep up the momentum during this time of unprecedented progress in neuromuscular disease research and care,” Lynn O’Connor Vos, president and CEO of MDA, said in a press release.

More information about each award can be found here.