The ALS Association has awarded a research grant to Michael Bereman, Ph.D., assistant professor, biological sciences, at NC State University. The grant, which is part of a new $1.2 million biomarker initiative funded by the Association and several partners, is for a project designed to improve diagnoses and prognosis for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease with which Dr. Bereman has been living since 2015.
The goal of the initiative is to discover new ALS biomarkers to improve diagnosis, assess whether drugs successfully hit their target (indicating success during drug development and clinical trials) and track disease progression over time. It was formed under the ALS Biomarker Consortium in partnership with ALS Finding A Cure (ALS FAC), CReATe Consortium, The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS).
Dr. Bereman’s project to develop a protein panel aimed at improving diagnosis and better assessing ALS prognosis was one of 12 promising biomarker projects from around the world selected to receive funding through the ALS ACT Biomarker Discovery Grant Program. With their $100,000 grant that includes funding from The ALS Association North Carolina Chapter, Dr. Bereman and his team anticipate that they will develop a multi-protein assay that will lead to earlier ALS diagnoses, and eventually, options for earlier treatments and intervention.
“Biomarkers are critical if we are to make progress in finding new treatments for ALS,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., MBA, chief scientist of The ALS Association. “I’m pleased that we were able to leverage the generous donations from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and find support from our partner organizations for this exciting initiative. Working together, we can speed our quest to end this devastating disease.”
“We are pleased to be able to help fund this important research project by Dr. Bereman,” said Jerry Dawson, President & CEO of The ALS Association North Carolina Chapter. “Early diagnosis is critical to the discovery of new treatments and ultimately a cure for ALS.”
Dr. Bereman is hopeful that with more research being carried out than ever before, treatments and a cure for ALS are on the horizon. “I hope some of this research will help with that breakthrough,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of hope. There are a lot of people that are incredibly smart working on this, day and night. I think with that, there’s going to be, hopefully, a breakthrough.”