New $5 million grant-making initiative seeks to foster collaboration between scientists from academia and the pharma/biotech industry.
The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) and Target ALS announced on October 15, 2019, a partnership that includes a call for proposals to identify treatments and biomarkers for frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is now understood that these two devastating, progressive diseases overlap in genetic causes and biological mechanisms.
The partnership centers on a $5 million multi-year grant-making initiative that aims to spur collaboration and form research consortia comprised of scientists from academia and the pharmaceutical/biotech industry. They will work to discover, validate, and develop specific candidate drug targets or candidate biomarkers that may translate into new therapies or validated biomarkers for both ALS and FTD.
Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) is the most common dementia for people under 60. It represents a group of neurodegenerative disorders, characterized by progressive changes in behavior, personality, language and/or movement.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is caused by the death of motor neurons — nerve cells that control voluntary muscles.
A continuum between the two diseases can be characterized on clinical, imaging, and pathological grounds. The recent discovery that mutation of the C9orf72 gene is the most common genetic cause of both disorders — as well as increasing awareness that some individuals face a diagnosis of FTD-ALS spectrum disorder — offer further evidence of this continuum.
Today, there is no known cure for either disease — a reality both organizations are dedicated to addressing through these efforts.
"This is an exciting opportunity to expand the FTD/ALS drug and biomarker development pipeline rapidly by fostering collaboration among scientists from academia and the pharma/biotech industry," said AFTD's Chief Executive Officer, Susan L-J Dickinson.
"We're proud to take this crucial step with Target ALS and the scientific communities we support, working towards viable treatments and accurate diagnoses of ALS and FTD," she said.
The partnership is partially modeled after a highly successful grant-making initiative launched in 2016 by Target ALS to build collaboration between academic and industry scientists. In the last three years, four of the five funded consortia developed ground-breaking therapeutic approaches.
"This request for proposals represents a major milestone for our organization and proof of our impact, having already introduced a collaborative approach that infused new energy to the search for viable treatments for ALS," said Target ALS' Chief Executive Officer Manish Raisinghani. "This is an exciting partnership with AFTD as it enables us to extend our model and impact for both ALS and adjacent diseases like FTD."
The partnership enables AFTD-funded fellows with ALS-focused projects to access scientific tools and resources provided by Target ALS with minimal cost. Together, AFTD and Target ALS will also organize joint research meetings for their scientific communities over the next two years.
Scientific inquiries can be directed to Target ALS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Manish Raisinghani at firstname.lastname@example.org or AFTD Scientific Director Dr. Nadine Tatton at email@example.com.
To review the call for proposals, please visit: www.targetALS.org/call-for-proposals or www.theaftd.org/call-for-proposals.
Deadline for “Industry-Led Consortia (ILCs) to submit letters of intent is December 2, 2019.
AFTD envisions a world with compassionate care, effective support, and a future free of FTD. Research is core to achieving every aspect of that vision. AFTD drives leading-edge research programs that stimulate scientists to focus on FTD and evaluate and pioneer new ideas to advance the science.
AFTD drives leading-edge research programs that stimulate scientists to focus on FTD and evaluate and pioneer new ideas to advance the science. AFTD grants are awarded in support of the best science, worldwide.
In addition, AFTD uses grant funding to stimulate new partnerships with other leaders targeting dementia and neurodegenerative disease, recognizing that a breakthrough targeting one of these conditions could benefit families facing any of them in the future.
ABOUT TARGET ALS
Founded in 2013 by former New York City Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Target ALS is a non-profit organization focused on fostering collaboration to accelerate ALS drug discovery and development.
The Innovation Ecosystem — a radically different approach to medical research — overcomes barriers and brings together the right people, funding, and critical resources to drive the development of breakthrough therapies for ALS.