Quest Magazine

ALS Research Briefs

Biogen Idec and Knopp Neurosciences announced Aug. 18, 2010, that they have entered into an agreement to continue developing KNS-760704 (dexpramipexole) as an experimental treatment for ALS. The drug helps protect nerve cells under adverse conditions. A phase 2 trial by Knopp showed the drug had favorable effects on motor function and survival in people with ALS.

Research Briefs: ALS, CMD, FA and SMA

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Card Issued for Air Travelers with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a notification card that should make commercial air travel a little easier for people with disabilities.

The blue, wallet-sized card allows people to discreetly notify airport security personnel of a disability, medical condition or medical device that might affect the screening they’re required to undergo before boarding a plane.

Expanded Ataxin 2 Genes a Major Contributor to ALS Risk

Scientists working in the United States and Germany have uncovered what appears to be the most common genetic contributor to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis so far identified.

The genetic factor is a segment of the ataxin 2 gene that's slightly longer than average, which causes the ataxin 2 protein to contain more molecules of the amino acid glutamine than it normally would.

US Team Wins PowerHockey Cup

It didn’t look good for the Minnesota Saints.

Playing against the tough Michigan Mustangs for the top prize in power wheelchair hockey, the Saints went up 4-2, only to see the score tied 4-4 with just five minutes to go.

That’s when forward Chad Wilson, 21, of Chanhassen, Minn., went into overdrive. Wilson, who has Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD), took less than two minutes to score two more goals for the Saints.

Research Briefs: ALS, BMD, DMD, MMD, SMA, Muscle Regeneration

Amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Not One But Two DNA Changes Are Needed to Cause FSHD

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) requires the presence of not one but two genetic changes, both on chromosome 4, before it causes its characteristic symptoms — weakness starting in the muscles of the face, shoulder blade area and upper arms, with possible progression to other parts of the body.

The new findings, announced online Aug. 19, 2010, in the journal Science, have immediate implications for diagnosis and prediction of FSHD, and possible long-term implications for its treatment.

ALS Experts Urge Caution Regarding Head Injury Findings

A new study has claimed professional athletes who have sustained repeated head injuries and developed what's known as "chronic traumatic encephalopathy" (CTE) may also be at higher-than-average risk for developing a motor neuron disease that resembles amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or is a subtype of ALS.

The two diseases may be part of a continuum of nervous-system pathology that can start with repeated head trauma and ultimately involve the brain and spinal cord, resulting in cognitive, behavioral and motor abnormalities, the study's investigators say.

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.

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