Research scientist Dena Jacob at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, received an MDA grant totaling $180,000 for research into decreasing cells' resistance to therapeutic medications in ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Jacob plans to study a "transporter" protein called P-glycoprotein, or P-gp, which belongs to a class of "transporter" proteins that pump drugs out of cells. P-gp recognizes a broad range of drugs and normally is found in cells of the blood brain and blood spinal cord barriers and also in some affected brain tissue, limiting drug penetration.
"P-gp expression in the spinal cord itself may impart overt pharmacoresistance (drug resistance) to ALS-affected cells and account for the poor therapeutic effect observed in [a number of previous] ALS clinical trials," Jacob said.
Jacob's findings could lead to re-examination of many previously unsuccessful clinical drug trials and encourage the development of new, combined therapeutic strategies for ALS.
"I am extremely honored and excited to be a Development Grant recipient of the MDA, an organization whose efforts and support are essential for advancing our understanding of neuromuscular diseases," Jacob said. "This funding will enable me to complete important experiments that will help us identify improved therapeutic strategies to target the mouse model of ALS and, ultimately, humans with this disease."
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2010.