The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has been awarded a grant for $20,000 from the ALS Association to continue a collaborative clinical research project, Impacting ALS, with Huntsville’s Crestwood Medical Center.
The goal of Impacting ALS is to identify genetic variants or changes that contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The progressive neurodegenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As many as 20,000 Americans live with ALS and 15 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every day.
“Hopefully, in understanding some of the biology behind ALS, we’ll be able to understand different avenues of how this disease happens, what causes it and, eventually, be able to find targets that can be useful for therapeutics and different treatments,” said Richard Myers, HudsonAlpha president and science director, and the Loya Endowed Faculty Chair in Genomics. “We are grateful to work with Crestwood and ALS patients right here in Huntsville for this project.”
The project enrolls patients from the Crestwood ALS Care Clinic, Alabama’s only ALS Association Treatment Center of Excellence. The center is led by co-medical directors Dr. David White and Dr. Aruna Arora. Impacting ALS has enrolled and returned results to nearly 50 patients in and around north Alabama.
“Crestwood is proud to have strong relationships with the ALS chapter and our patients who are battling ALS,” said Dr. Pam Hudson, Crestwood Medical Center chief executive officer. “We are excited to collaborate with HudsonAlpha on this project to better understand and treat this disease, which will allow us to help improve the quality of life for ALS patients.”
The Crestwood ALS Care Clinic is a Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS) site. The mission of NEALS is to rapidly translate scientific advances into clinical research and new treatments for people with ALS and motor neuron disease.
“Our mission is to connect those living with ALS to research,” said Sherry Kolodziejczak, occupational therapist and ALS Care Clinic director. “The collaboration between Crestwood ALS Care Clinic and HudsonAlpha has provided the opportunity to bring research to our local community.”
ALS patient Bryan Stone of Sylacauga, a NEALS ambassador for Crestwood ALS Care Clinic, is happy to see that research is happening in Huntsville.
“As a person with ALS, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative study in Huntsville between HudsonAlpha and Crestwood ALS Clinic of Excellence,” he said. “Most trials and studies are conducted more than four hours from north Alabama, and as our ALS progresses, travel becomes difficult. This study allows us to participate and to engage in a research project where we are informed of our genetic results. Again, thank you, HudsonAlpha and Crestwood ALS Clinic of Excellence, for this opportunity.”
The recent grant will allow additional patients to enroll. Through this project, HudsonAlpha scientists will apply their genomics expertise to better understand ALS in hopes of finding better treatments.
“Thank you to the ALS Association and many other generous donors,” said Elizabeth Herrin, director of External Relations. “This project, which is helping us advance our understanding of the disease and make meaningful contributions to ALS research, would not be possible without the support.”
To continue to help patients and families with ALS, donations may be made at hudsonalpha.org/donate or to the HudsonAlpha Foundation at 601 Genome Way N.W., Huntsville, AL 35806.