NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2013 -- Project A.L.S. today announced an agreement with Eli Lilly and Company aimed at helping to accelerate the development of potential therapies for the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As part of the agreement, Project A.L.S. will study molecules developed and studied pre-clinically by Lilly scientists for the treatment of cancer to assess their potential in the treatment of ALS.
Research by Project A.L.S., a non-profit aligned with leading academic medical institutes and key opinion leaders across the globe, Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., and Thomas Jessell Ph.D., both professors at Columbia University, uncovered novel data that identified a critical role in ALS disease progression for several inflammatory signaling pathways that are also known to be associated with cancer.
"Chronic inflammation has long been implicated in ALS disease progression, but recent advances in areas like genomics have now made it possible to identify specific inflammatory targets for ALS drug development," said Dr. Maniatis.
Lilly has a robust oncology pipeline, including several preclinical molecules targeting the signaling pathways proposed to be involved in cancer and inflammation. Project A.L.S. will study select Lilly molecules in preclinical ALS models, pioneered by Project A.L.S. during the last 15 years, to determine if these molecules show any activity between ALS and inflammation.
"The evidence demonstrating a potential role for these cancer signaling pathways in the progression of ALS is compelling," said Greg Plowman, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of oncology research at Lilly. "Lilly will provide well-characterized and selective molecules that we hope will help accelerate the development of medicines for ALS."
"Project A.L.S. is honored and excited to work with Lilly on these early stage research studies," said Valerie Estess, director of research for Project A.L.S. "The hope is that this collaboration will eventually provide meaningful new treatment options for ALS patients," added Estess.
Project A.L.S.™ is a non-profit 501©3 devoted to understanding, treating, and ultimately curing ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Founded in 1998 by Jenifer Estess, her family and friends, Project A.L.S. requires competing scientists to work together and openly share data and has become the new paradigm for brain disease research. Additional information about Project A.L.S. is available at www.projectals.org.
ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects adults of all ages. ALS targets brain cells called motor neurons; as they die, people with ALS progressively lose the ability to walk, speak, swallow, and breathe. ALS is usually fatal within 2-5 years of diagnosis. Experts say that ALS and the related neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, are a 21st century epidemic. In ten years 1 in 25 Americans will be affected with a neurodegenerative disease.