MDA has awarded a research grant totaling $202,508 over a period of three years to Raymond Grill, assistant professor in the department of integrative biology and pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. The funds will support testing in the SOD1 mouse model of an experimental combination drug treatment in ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease).
One process suspected to be heavily involved in ALS disease progression is inflammation, which can create a toxic environment and kill motor neurons.
Using the SOD1 ALS research mouse model, Grill's research team will test the hypothesis that a drug called Licofelone, which has completed phase 3 testing in humans, will enhance the ability of riluzole (Rilutek) to better penetrate the nervous system. (Rilutek is the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of ALS.)
The researchers expect the combination treatment will reduce inflammation, protect motor function, rescue motor neurons and prolong survival in the SOD1 mice, and if favorable results are obtained, the group will attempt to "fast-track" the "two-part" treatment into clinical development.
"The support provided by the Muscular Dystrophy Association provides an invaluable opportunity for laboratories such as ours to enter this important field and both test and translate new ideas."
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2011.