$5M in Grants to Support Work into Treatments, Biomarkers for ALS and Frontotemporal Degeneration

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Target ALS joined with the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) to announce a $5 million grant initiative to spur the development of new therapies and identify biomarkers for both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal degeneration (FTD).

Project proposals are welcomed from “Industry-Led Consortia (ILCs)” that bring together researchers from the pharma industry and academia to work together. Letters of intent for ILCs will be accepted through Dec. 2, 2019.

Funding of up to $500,000 a year for each consortium will be awarded that includes a maximum budget of $200,000 for each partner lab.

“This is an exciting opportunity to expand the FTD/ALS drug and biomarker development pipeline rapidly by fostering collaboration among scientists from academia and the pharma/biotech industry,” Susan L-J Dickinson, chief executive officer for the AFTD, said in a press release.

About a third of ALS patients also develop FTD, a common cause of dementia that can affect behavior, personality, language, and motor function. Genetic mutations affecting the C9orf72 gene, as well as such genes as SOD1FUSTARDBPTBK1, NEK1MAPT and GRN, are found in ALS and/or FTD, but for the majority the underlying mechanisms remain unknown.

The partnership aims to fund research into better understanding the links between ALS and FTD, opening a potential for shared therapeutic approaches.

“We’re proud to take this crucial step with Target ALS and the scientific communities we support, working towards viable treatments and accurate diagnoses of ALS and FTD,” Dickinson added.

Invitations for full project proposals will go out on Dec. 9, and an expert review will then run through March 6, 2020. Detailed information on requirements for proposal submissions is available here.

“This request for proposals represents a major milestone for our organization and proof of our impact, having already introduced a collaborative approach that infused new energy to the search for viable treatments for ALS,” said Manish Raisinghani, chief executive officer of Target ALS.

The new grant program follows a successful initiative led by Target ALS in 2016, which supported the development of therapies by funding four consortia-led projects.

Besides this grant program, the new partnership will allow researchers working in ALS, with funding from AFTD, to access scientific tools and resources provided by Target ALS with minimal cost. AFTD and Target ALS also plan to organized in joint research meetings to promote knowledge exchange between these scientific communities over the next two years.