November of 2018 was the announcement eight new research projects being funded with an investment of $1 million through the Canada Research Program. These eight new research projects include multiple studies using cutting-edge techniques, never before applied to ALS, further examination of newly discovered proteins that may be critical to understanding how ALS works in the body, the use of specialized models of ALS to better understand how the disease occurs, a new spin on targeting abnormal immune and inflammatory mechanisms to treat ALS, and development of a unique Canadian protocol to measure the value of therapies on quality of life alongside medical evaluation in clinical trials.
The research being funded will seek to answer questions that will enable the exploration of new therapeutic targets, extend existing research to support further discoveries and help researchers gain a greater understanding about why ALS progresses differently in each individual. The research questions to be answered are:
Can unique fish models of ALS be used to understand nervous system signaling in ALS?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Gary Armstrong at the Montréal Neurological Institute.
Can a protein that affects immune cells in the brain be reprogrammed to prevent or slow ALS?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Jasna Kriz at Université Laval.
Can an effective measure of ALS-specific health related quality of life in clinical trials be developed?
$124,993.81 has been awarded to Dr. Ayse Kuspinar and Dr. Vanina Dal Bello-Haas, both from McMaster University
Are abnormal stress granules a unifying factor in ALS?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Eric Lécuyer at Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM).
Is ALS pathology different in one region of the brain vs. another within a single person with ALS?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Janice Robertson at the University of Toronto.
Can environmental factors affecting genes explain why ALS affects people differently?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva at the University of Toronto.
Does a unique, hidden protein called altFUS play a role in ALS?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Xavier Roucou at Université de Sherbrooke.
Does a previously unstudied protein called hnRNP A1B play an important role in ALS?
$125,000 has been awarded to Dr. Christine Vande Velde at the University of Montréal.
The funding of the eight research projects followed a competitive peer review process, which engaged global ALS experts who evaluated a larger pool of applications to identify the projects that are grounded in scientific excellence and have the potential to most quickly advance the field of ALS research in order to develop effective treatments.