By Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., MBA
People often ask me what is the most exciting thing going on right now in ALS research. With so many exciting new projects, especially since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge infused millions into the pipeline, it’s difficult to pick just one area – they’re all exciting!
Right now, the development of formulas that speed up clinical trial are encouraging. Advancements in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology which models a person’s genetics in a dish show promise. And big data efforts aimed at discovering new genes and disease pathways are speeding our way to a treatment.
But, if I had to choose one area I am most excited about, it would be…
Currently, the only way to diagnose ALS is to rule out other diseases. In many cases, people endure an excruciating 12-18 months of tests and waiting for answers as their condition deteriorates.
If scientists could identify an ALS biomarker – a measurable indicator, like a chemical change in the blood or structural changes in the brain – it would not only expedite diagnosis, but also enable doctors to track disease progression and patients’ responses to drugs in trial.
Since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, your support has enabled tremendous investment in biomarker research. In fact, one study in Arizona is currently validating a cerebral spinal fluid and plasma biomarker and other biomarkers are in development.
Every discovery in ALS research – successes and dead-ends – are clues that add up to a better understanding of the ALS disease process.
Continued research in this area is critical, and scientists need your support now more than ever. Please consider making your generous contribution today.