Quest Magazine

MDA Awards More Than $14 Million in Research Grants

MDA has awarded 38 new research grants totaling more than $14 million and covering more than a dozen neuromuscular diseases. 

MDA's Board of Directors met in Los Angeles July 16, where it reviewed and approved the new grants based on recommendations from the MDA Scientific and Medical Advisory Committees. Grants were scored and recommended for approval based on the capabilities of the applicant, the scientific merit of the project, and the proposal's relevance to developing treatments for the disease. The effective start date for all grants was July 1, 2010.

MDA Awards Nearly $3.5 Million in New ALS Grants

MDA has awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $3.5 million to fund research projects focused on uncovering the causes of, and developing therapies for, ALS.

The new grants went to investigators at labs in the United States, Canada and Israel.

More FUS-Related ALS Cases Found

Mutations in the gene for a protein called FUS may be a more widely distributed cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than previously recognized, according to three separate reports, all published in July 2010 in the journal Neurology.

Research Briefs: ALS, DMD, MTM and SMA

Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Acceleron Pharma announced Aug. 4 that it has received fast track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its experimental compound ACE031 for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). ACE031 is designed to interfere with the actions of myostatin, a protein that inhibits muscle growth.

Blocking a Protein Extends Survival in ALS Mice

Elevated levels of an immune-system protein called interleukin-1-beta (IL-1-beta) exacerbates a disease in mice that closely resembles human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and blocking this protein extends survival in these mice, a research team in Germany has found.

The study adds to the accumulating evidence that the immune system misbehaves in ALS and that altering its behavior could be a way to treat the disease.

Feds Both Seek and Give Advice Re Disability Issues

Two federal agencies are seeking to improve conditions for people with disabilities, in one case by strengthening federal hiring regulations, and in the other by making health care facilities more accessible to people with mobility problems.

Improving employment

The U.S. Department of Labor, through its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), is inviting public comments on ways to strengthen regulations covering the hiring of people with disabilities by federal contractors.

August is SMA Awareness Month

August is National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month, and research in this disease has never been more promising.

Major themes in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) research include increasing cellular production of the needed SMN protein; inserting new genes for the needed SMN protein; stabilizing shorter SMN protein molecules produced by people with SMA; and strengthening the nerve-muscle connections (neuromuscular junctions) that are weakened in this disease.

Here are some recent news stories about SMA from the MDA website.

ALS-Causing TDP43 Overstays Its Welcome

At least some of the mutations in the TDP43 protein that are known to lead to ALS cause the TDP43 protein to be more stable than usual and change its interactions with other cellular proteins, say researchers at the University of California-San Diego. The changes are toxic ones.

Retiree with BMD is the Best at Beauty Pageants

Beauty pageants are not events that just happen by themselves, as Will Isgett can attest.

He’s one of 42 local executive directors of preliminary beauty pageants in South Carolina cities that culminate every year in the Miss South Carolina pageant. In 2010, the Miss South Carolina Board of Directors voted him the best of the bunch, for the pageant he directed in his hometown of Darlington.

Study to Probe Oxidative Stress in People With ALS

More than 400 people who recently received an ALS diagnosis are being sought for a large study of a cell-damaging phenomenon called "oxidative stress," common in ALS and other degenerative diseases.

Oxidative stress is a type of damage that results from high levels of toxic byproducts of energy production inside cells. These toxic chemicals — known as free radicals — normally are present, but when they're produced in excess or when cells become unable to detoxify them, they become dangerous.

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