The Department of Defense's ALS Research Program (ALSRP) recently gave several researchers awards as part of its fiscal year 2015 awards ceremony that focuses on finding a cure or improving the treatment options for ALS.
The ALSRP gives out two different types of awards per year: the Therapeutic Development Award, given to researchers working on post-discovery, preclinical development of ALS therapeutics; and the Therapeutic Idea Award, given to researchers searching for new drugs to treat ALS.
Antonius Bunt from Izumi Biosciences Inc. received the Therapeutic Development Award. The Therapeutic Idea Award was given to Claudio Hetz, Biomedical Neuroscience Institute; Brent Stockwell, Columbia University; Gong Chen, Pennsylvania State University; Jacob Robinson, Rice University; Evan Snyder, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; Keith Gagnon, Southern Illinois University; Joseph Puglisi, Stanford University; and Justin Yerbury, University of Wollongong.
The awardees are chosen after a scientific peer review of all applicants, followed by an evaluation from a panel consisting of scientists, clinicians and ALS patients and their families.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that impacts nerve cells in the brain and spine, causing people to become paralyzed and eventually die, usually between two and five years of contracting the disease. There is currently no known cure and only one drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Riluzole, that can slow down the disease.
Military veterans are reported to be twice as likely to die of ALS, so the Department of Defense established the ALSRP with the ALS Association in 2007.