TORONTO, January 30, 2024 – Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that can progress with startling swiftness. The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) recognizes the need to move quickly in funding promising research and, with a new grant program, intends to condense lengthy processes between the selection and funding of research projects while also expanding the scope of eligible projects globally.
The ALS Canada Acceleration Grant Program was created with the goal of propelling an exciting line of research forward seamlessly, without the need for lengthy applications, reviews, and administrative phases. It relies on a unique form of global peer review, where experts in the field proactively determine the best work to support rather than reactively evaluating applications. This could potentially shift the ability to fund some of the most promising projects anywhere in the world from taking years to find funding to just a few short months.
“Researchers around the globe are working tirelessly to uncover new discoveries that will advance our understanding of ALS and develop effective treatments for the disease,” says Dr. David Taylor, Vice-President of Research and Strategic Partnerships, ALS Canada. “To have an impact on people currently living with the disease, we must move faster to fund research and look at promising, innovative ideas beyond our borders to fuel discoveries that will lead to a world free of ALS.”
Nearly 4,000 Canadians live with ALS and know firsthand the urgency to fund new treatments. After receiving a diagnosis, eighty per cent of people will die from the disease within two to five years.
“We are incredibly proud to be bringing forward an innovative opportunity to fund new projects at an expedited speed with the ALS Canada Acceleration Grant Program,” says Tammy Moore, CEO, ALS Canada. “ALS is a devastating disease; by bringing together global leaders in ALS to identify and support projects from around the world, we look to fund research that will change the outcome of an ALS diagnosis and have an impact on future ALS discoveries.”
The 2023 ALS Canada Acceleration Grant Program is pleased to provide a total of $200,000 in funding to two projects over one year.
Summary of 2023 Acceleration Grants
Epidemiological study of ALS in Colombia and Ethiopia
Mónica Povedano, Hospital de Bellvitge-IDIBELL (Barcelona, Spain), awarded $100,000
Professor Mónica Povedano leads a collaborative effort with colleagues in Colombia and Ethiopia. The goal of the study is to enhance clinical and research infrastructure in South America and Northern Africa. With the support of an ALS Canada Acceleration Grant, Professor Povedano is conducting the first-ever comparative study in ALS across different ethnic backgrounds alongside data from European individuals and aims to strengthen research capabilities in these regions. This study is significant in the Canadian context as it addresses the underrepresentation of global populations in ALS research and will contribute to our overall understanding of ALS.
Beyond learning about people living with ALS in these regions, Professor Povedano’s work will create the infrastructure to conduct clinical trials. This will potentially provide beneficial experimental therapeutic access to these countries and accelerate opportunities to discover treatments that could be available to Canadians if successful.
Unravelling early ALS: An EEG-MRI investigation of presymptomatic C9ORF72
Dr. Stefan Dukic, postdoctoral researcher at University Medical Centre Utrecht (The Netherlands), awarded $100,000
Dr. Stefan Dukic is developing a new method of sub-grouping people with ALS using a resting-state electroencephalogram (EEG). This technique measures the brain’s electrical activity through simple electrodes placed on the scalp. Dr. Dukic and his colleagues have shown that EEG can capture abnormal patterns of motor and cognitive brain activity in ALS and potentially help to predict how someone’s ALS will progress.
The Acceleration Grant funding will provide support to speed up this work, recruit more participants and to explore a novel combination of EEG with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This combined tool could be much more powerful in understanding the different forms of ALS, potentially paving the way toward personalized medicine and more effective clinical trials of experimental treatments. The project will also focus on individuals who may have underlying disease processes but have not yet experienced symptoms, suggesting that it could help to someday treat earlier or even prevent ALS from happening.
Funding for Dr. Dukic’s The Stevie Fever For ALS Foundation-ALS Canada Acceleration Grant was made possible through a partnership with The Stevie Fever For ALS Foundation, which generously contributed $100,000 to ALS Canada.
About ALS Canada and the ALS Canada Research Program
The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) is working to change what it means to live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an unrelenting and currently terminal disease.
Grounded in and informed by the Canadian ALS community, we respond to the urgent unmet need for life-changing treatments by investing in high-quality research that will fuel scientific discovery and by engaging industry, supporting increased clinical capacity and advocating for equitable, affordable, and timely access to proven therapies.
Responding to the tremendous need for current and credible ALS knowledge, awareness, and education, we empower Canadians affected by ALS to navigate the current realities of ALS, be informed consumers of ALS information, and advocate effectively for change.
Through the ALS Canada Research Program, we fund peer-reviewed research grants, foster collaboration and build capacity within Canada’s ALS research and clinical community, and invest in new areas of research positioned to have high impact. As the only national dedicated source of funding for ALS research across Canada, the ALS Canada Research Program aims to accelerate research impact by providing funding for the most promising ALS projects focused on translating scientific discoveries into treatments for ALS. We are grateful for the support of our donors and the contributions from participating provincial ALS Societies through the Walk to End ALS.
About The Stevie Fever For ALS Foundation
The Stevie Fever for ALS Foundation is a registered Canadian charity created in loving memory of Steve Daly – affectionately known as ‘Stevie’ – a vibrant soul, devoted husband, and father of four. His spirited zest for life echoed loudly, even in the face of adversity. In 2022, at the age of 50, Stevie passed away after valiantly battling ALS for nine months, leaving an indelible mark on all who knew him. To pay tribute to Stevie’s remarkable life and propel the fight against ALS, his family established the Stevie Fever for ALS Foundation. This registered Canadian charity is on a mission to not only raise awareness but also generate crucial funds for groundbreaking ALS research and compassionate care. Since Steve’s diagnosis in 2021, the Stevie Fever Foundation has rallied an astounding $225,000+ in his name. This impressive sum serves as a testament to the love and support pouring in from friends, family, and the community, all united in the common cause of advancing research and providing care for those affected by ALS.
For more information:
ALS Society of Canada