June 3, 2013 Foundation News

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Breakthrough Underscores Importance of Collaboration to Brain Research

As the result of a major breakthrough by researchers at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine, researchers studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, are now one step closer to unlocking the nature of ALS. The recent discovery, which for the first time identified a gene both in motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord affected by ALS, offers a glimpse of hope to those who currently suffer from the deadly disease which rapidly breaks down their bodies while leaving mental capacity intact.
Brain Research Foundation (BRF), Les Turner ALS Foundation, The National Institutes of Health and Wenske Foundation all provided grants to fund this research. Terre Constantine, Executive Director of BRF said, “This research is a significant achievement in our understanding of ALS and is only possible because multiple foundations with a commitment to brain research joined with the NIH to support the work. As so often is the case, the achievement and commitment of the research team exceeded their funding for which we are all grateful. This achievement and how it came about dramatizes the urgent need for increased funding on brain research, especially from non-governmental organizations.”
“This research team is one of hundreds throughout the U.S. working diligently to unlock mysteries surrounding all types of brain disease,” Constantine added. The Brain Research Foundation has a 60-year track record of funding innovative research ideas that will ultimately lead to such successes. But additional resources are greatly needed. Overall government funding for brain research over the last three years has been significantly reduced in real dollar terms. It would be a man-made tragedy if work to advance discoveries like this declined due to a lack of funding.
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