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NYGC Partners on First-Ever Comprehensive Research Initiative to Discover Urgently Needed ALS Biomarkers

December 8, 2020

On December 8, 2020, Target ALS, a medical research foundation committed to the search for effective treatments for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), announced the launch of the first-ever comprehensive effort to discover ALS biomarkers — The Target ALS Diagnosis Initiative — through which the organization will invest $15 million in collaborative grantmaking and the development of new scientific resources. The initiative was developed in response to input from over 100 scientists, patients, caregivers, and other thought leaders. They universally identified ALS biomarkers as a critical unmet need to diagnose the disease early, track its progression and provide reliable measures for new treatments.

The initiative includes developing an integrated Biofluid and Genomics core that will exponentially improve the impact of human biosamples on research through the integration of longitudinal biofluids, genomic datasets, and postmortem tissue with expedited, no-strings-attached access to samples worldwide.

The new core is made possible through existing alliances between Target ALS, The ALS Association, The Tow Foundation, and the New York Genome Center, as well as a new partnership with Aural Analytics. Together, the partnership will establish the clearest picture of the pathogenesis of ALS as provided through patient biofluids — including CSF, blood and urine — as the disease progresses (longitudinal biofluid samples), after death (postmortem tissue), and the genomic, clinical, and demographic datasets associated with these samples.

“The more types of data you can study together, the more powerful your approach becomes to better understanding the mechanisms and progression of ALS,” said Hemali Phatnani, PhD, Director of the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease at the New York Genome Center. “So the convergence of biofluid samples collected over the course of disease, postmortem banked tissues, and well-characterized patient samples – the clinical data married with the genomic DNA and RNA data – presents a more complete picture.”

For more details, read the Target ALS announcement.

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