What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapid, always fatal neurodegenerative disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. Every day, two to three Canadians die of the disease.

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Sunday June 12th, 2016

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ALS Society of Alberta

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge allows for historic research investment in Alberta

The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Society of Alberta is thrilled to announce that Dr. Sanjay Kalra, a neurologist and ALS specialist at the University of Alberta, has been named a recipient of The Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant. This $2.94 million investment will aid Dr. Kalra’s research team in the exploration of new high-powered MRI techniques that may be able to diagnose ALS earlier, monitor disease progression and determine treatment efficacy.

Dr. Kalra’s cross-Canada consortium will collaboratively investigate a way to monitor ALS through an advanced method of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These high-powered MRIs will analyze the differences between people living with, and living without ALS in hopes of finding something significant that tells them apart. In addition, success in this study could improve the ability to diagnose the disease and will create a nationwide foundation for use of the technique.

“The Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant encourages and enables researchers across Canada to work together to achieve the common goal of finding effective treatment faster for ALS,” said Dr. Sanjay Kalra. “The grant program, sponsored by ALS Canada with leveraging funds from Brain Canada, has been made possible by the generous donations of Canadians through the Ice Bucket Challenge and the WALKS for ALS. I have no doubt that this investment will lead to transformational discoveries in our understanding of ALS and ultimately effective treatments that will improve the lives of patients with ALS and their families.”

In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral across the world. Albertans raised a remarkable $2.8 million for the ALS Society of Alberta during this social media campaign, of which $2 million was invested in the national ALS Canada research program. Brain Canada then announced that it would match the funds raised for research during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, allowing for $21.5 million to be invested in research across the country. One year later, the ALS Societies across Canada are pleased to announce that $15 million has been invested in the most promising science to aid in accelerating the development of effective treatments for those affected by ALS.

“It is exciting to see cutting-edge research taking place right here in Alberta,” said Karen Caughey, Executive Director of the ALS Society of Alberta. “This substantial investment in research would not have been possible without the fundraising efforts of Albertans.”

The remaining $800,000 raised during the Ice Bucket Challenge allowed the ALS Society of Alberta to respond to every request for support last year. This includes home visits, equipment rentals, support groups and support for children, offered to clients free of charge.


2015 Postdoctoral Fellowship Recipients Announced

It is with great pleasure that ALS Canada announces the two recipients of 2015 postdoctoral fellowships awarded by the ALS Canada Research Program. As a result of the continued pursuance of a better understanding of the disease and new treatments to achieve our vision, it is imperative that promising young investigators are nurtured into a career focused on ALS research. Early postdoctoral years are when critical decisions are made in determining the direction of an individual's research and academic career. Supporting the highest calibre applicants at this stage provides the best possible chance for maintaining Canadian ALS research excellence in the future.

This year, we are fortunate to provide two fellowships at $55,000 per year for three years. These funds provide the salary for these talented individuals and ultimately assist the hosting lab and supervisor to better flourish in their contribution to the field of ALS research. Postdocs are the key implementers of the lab's vision and not only contribute to the direction of their work, but also execute the work to achieve results. The fellowship program is a fantastic investment and an important part of the ALS Canada Research Program that has previously nurtured individuals who are now global contributors to the field of ALS research as independent principal investigators.

Read more: 2015 Postdoctoral Fellowship Recipients Announced


2015 Doctoral Research Award Recipients Announced

It is with great pleasure that ALS Alberta announces the 2015 recipients of the Doctoral Research Awards, awarded by the ALS Canada National Research Program. As a result of continued pursuance of a better understanding of the disease and new treatments, it is imperative that promising young investigators are nurtured into a career focused on ALS research. Attracting the brightest young minds to ALS research will contribute to a succession plan for the Canadian ALS research community and will nurture the potential for younger perspectives to bring new ideas to the field.

The Doctoral Research Awards provide $25,000 per year over three years for salary to pursue a PhD in a Canadian laboratory. This funding also assists the hosting laboratory by offsetting funds that will help them to achieve their goals. As a result, it is a wise investment that will hopefully launch the career of a future leader in the field and further secure our ability to achieve the vision of making ALS a treatable, not terminal disease.

Read more: 2015 Doctoral Research Award Recipients Announced


The Compassionate Care Benefit Gets Extended

We received good news today from the Government of Canada Budget 2015 announcement.  The Compassionate Care Benefit has been officially extended from six to 26 weeks. This is a really important step forward to support caregivers who are caring for a loved one at home. We thank the federal government for their commitment to the extension of the CCB.


Read more: The Compassionate Care Benefit Gets Extended


Exciting Announcement!


The ALS Society of Alberta is delighted to announce a wonderful new partnership! Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames has chosen the ALS Society of Alberta as one of his charities of choice!

Read more: Exciting Announcement!


Ice Bucket Challenge Funds New Clinical Trial

We are proud to announce funding for a new clinical trial from your donations through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and ALS Canada's partnership with Brain Canada and the Government of Canada!

The Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant was first announced on May 3, 2014 at the ALS Canada Research Forum and the inaugural competition deadline was July 1, 2014. This new grant program is designed to fund teams of Canadian researchers to accelerate the movement of ideas out of the laboratory and into the clinic with the hope of assisting development of new therapeutics for ALS. It is the cornerstone of our ALS Canada Research Program designed to emphasize bench-to-bedside translation. For the first time ever, ALS Canada, in partnership with Brain Canada, have utilized an International Peer Review Panel consisting of seven European and American ALS experts, spanning the basic to clinical spectrum, who convened in Toronto in November to determine the top project amongst strong competition.

It is a great pleasure to announce that the recipient of the first Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant is a team led by Dr. Lawrence Korngut, MD at the University of Calgary and also includes Dr. Lorne Zinman, MD from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and University of Toronto. Together, they will pursue “A randomized controlled trial of pimozide in subjects with ALS”; a Phase II study involving 100 participants across 8 ALS clinics across Canada.

This trial, led by the Principal Investigator of the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry (CNDR) and the Chair of the Canadian ALS Research Network (CALS) will examine whether pimozide, a drug already approved by Health Canada for use in psychoses like schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome, might slow progression of ALS. Pimozide is particularly effective at stabilizing neuromuscular function, which means it can strengthen the connection where the motor neuron meets the muscle (called the neuromuscular junction or NMJ). It is hoped that by strengthening this connection, there will be preservation of transmission of signals from the brain to the muscle and slowing of paralysis in ALS.

Read more: Ice Bucket Challenge Funds New Clinical Trial


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ALS Society of Alberta
#250, 4723 - 1 Street SW Calgary,
AB Canada T2G 4Y8

Phone: 1(403)228-3857  
Fax: 1(403)228-7752  
Toll-Free: 1(888)309-1111  
E-mail: info@alsab.ca