Barrow Neurological Institute receives $16.7 million for ALS research

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Barrow Neurological Institute has received a large award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award will help create and lead groundbreaking and transformative national amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) clinical research. The award is the largest Barrow has ever received from the NIH with a first-year budget of $16.7 million.

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease is rapidly progressive, ultimately fatal and neurodegenerative with about 32,000 cases in the U.S. With an estimated lifetime risk of 1 in 400 people, an average of 5,000 new U.S. cases are diagnosed each year. There are no treatments to stop or reverse ALS progression.

Dr. Robert Bowser, Chief Scientific Officer at Barrow, joined Arizona Horizon to speak about the latest in ALS research at the Gregory W. Fulton ALS and Neuromuscular Disease Center at Barrow, one of the world’s leading centers for ALS research and patient care.

The new consortium will conduct clinical research that will include ALS patients nationwide. Barrow will manage half of 34 clinical sites in the study which spans the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The consortium will be led by researchers at Barrow, Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University.

“We’re incredibly excited about the opportunity to lead this national effort,” Dr. Bowser said, adding the goal is to enroll nearly every ALS patient in the study.

“We’re going to be working at major academic medical centers but also with people in remote settings,” Dr. Bowser said.

Barrow is doing something called a “Natural History Study.” This will allow researchers to learn more about the disease in patients as they progress through the disease.

There are over 40 gene mutations that can cause ALS.

“We can enroll individuals that harbor these genetic mutations but don’t yet have ALS and follow them over time,” Dr. Bowser said. “Our goal is to understand how and when the onset of the disease occurs so that we can develop new and improved treatments to both stop the progression of the disease but ultimately halt the onset of the disease.”

Dr. Robert Bowser, Chief Scientific Officer, Barrow Neurological Institute

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