The Target ALS Foundation, a collaborative research consortium, received a $5 million matching-gift donation from Biogen to help establish the foundation’s new Industry Fund for ALS Research, supporting a network of private-public research laboratories working to develop effective treatments and, ideally, a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Biogen is deeply committed to ALS research and will continue to contribute both intellectually and financially to the search for a treatment for this devastating disease,” Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, PhD, the company’s chief scientific officer, said in a press release. “We challenge our industry peers to join us in pre-competitive support of Target ALS and their groundbreaking mission to drive research collaboration across the public and private sectors.”
The Biogen challenge to other industry donors has a $20 million goal and will be used to support precompetitive research in all fields of value to the ALS community. Biogen, a biotechnology company focused on neurodegenerative diseases, hematologic conditions and autoimmune disorders, announced it will match 50 percent of all donations by biotech and pharmaceutical companies to the Industry Fund for ALS Research through 2018. Those contributing more than $1 million will be registered as founding members.
“Our goal is to increase the number, robustness and intensity of active ALS drug development programs in the biopharmaceutical industry by supporting the most promising preclinical research and fostering vital interactions between academia and industry,” said Manish Raisinghani, MD, PhD, president of the Target ALS Foundation.
The foundation is especially focused on addressing the lack of effective treatments for this debilitating disease, which often strikes adults in their prime. Recent advancements in biological, genetic, and clinical research raise hope for a treatment that can slow or even stop the paralysis caused by ALS, it said, but any potential therapies need first to be validated in clinical trials.
“We are grateful for the generous support of Biogen and other organizations that fund our important mission, and look forward to welcoming new industry collaborators to our urgent search for a treatment for people living with ALS,” Raisinghani added.
Target ALS fund donations will be used to support the exploration of ideas that might not otherwise move forward into development and testing, and, as in the past, will help enable new models of scientific collaboration.
Target ALS’ goal is to discover, support and validate new therapeutic targets for ALS. The Industry Fund for ALS Research network aims to promote new drug discovery programs in collaboration with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies through the establishment of academic and industry consortia, and to help young investigators pursue ALS research careers.
Biogen, in collaboration with ISIS Pharmaceuticals, is currently conducting a Phase 1/2 clinical study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of ISIS-SOD1Rx (BIIB067) in ALS patients. This study, NCT02623699, expects to close in April 2018 and is currently recruiting adults with ALS to participate.