ALS Canada funds innovative ALS research in partnership with Brain Canada and the Government of Canada

MARKHAM, ON, Jan. 26, 2015 /CNW/ – The ALS Society of Canada, in partnership with Brain Canada and the Government of Canada, are proud to announce the first research grant from the funds raised from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  The Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant will be used to test clinical response to the drug pimozide, as well as to examine a potential new biomarker test for understanding how this drug therapy works in ALS patients and determine which patients would best respond to this therapy.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a terminal neurodegenerative disease that involves the breakdown in the connections which control muscle movement, leading to total paralysis and eventual death.  Pimozide is a Health Canada approved drug for patients with schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome, which has shown to be effective in stabilizing neuromuscular function, thereby strengthening the connection between our motor neurons and muscles.  The team’s hypothesis is that treatment with pimozide may slow down the paralysis in ALS patients.

The trial is being led by Dr. Lawrence Korngut at the University of Calgary and Dr. Lorne Zinman at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  It will test the safety and efficacy of this potential treatment on 100 ALS patients across eight ALS clinics in Canada.  If proven effective, pimozide will be tested in a larger trial to examine if it can be used as a marketed therapeutic to slow down ALS progression in the wider population.

“We learned that pimozide has the potential to slow down ALS from landmark studies performed in animal models by Canadian basic scientists led by Dr. Pierre Drapeau at the Université de Montréal.  This clinical trial funded by ALS Canada and Brain Canada represents a tremendous opportunity to apply those learnings in a large number of ALS patients across Canada,” said Dr. Lawrence Korngut.  “This is a nationwide effort to develop a meaningful treatment for ALS is made possible by generous donors from across Canada and we are very grateful for the support and generosity of everyone who has donated and our sponsors ALS Canada and Brain Canada.”

Brain Canada is proud to partner with the ALS Society of Canada in this transformative new research endeavor.  Through the Canada Brain Research Fund, Brain Canada and the Government of Canada are matching the funds raised from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge directed to research, bringing the total investment to $20 million. This is the first in a series of funding announcements to come.  Our combined efforts will without question accelerate the progress of finding a treatment and eventual cure for this terminal disease, and for other neurodegenerative diseases which have similar underlying mechanisms,” said Inez Jabalpurwala President and CEO, Brain Canada Foundation.

“We are committed to driving toward our vision of making ALS a treatable disease by 2024,” said Dr. David Taylor, Director of Research at the ALS Society of Canada.  “Studies like this show the power of Canadian collaboration and give us the best chance of meeting that goal.”

The ALS Society of Canada will provide more information about the trial (sites, timelines) as it gets closer to recruiting.

About ALS
ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a neurodegenerative disease where the cells in the body that control movement die. The “living wires” which connect a person’s brain to their muscles degenerate, leading to a loss of mobility and eventual paralysis, changes or complete loss of speech and eventually the ability to breathe. ALS is a terminal disease that has no cure, and no effective treatment. Approximately 2,500-3,000 Canadians are living with ALS.  It is estimated 1,000 Canadians will die because of ALS and 1,000 will be newly diagnosed each year. The average lifespan is two to five years.

About ALS Canada
The ALS Society of Canada was founded in 1977. We are dedicated to supporting people living with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and investing in research for the future, so ALS will be a treatable, not terminal disease.

The ALS Society of Canada has a role in Ontario, similar to that of the ALS Societies across Canada: to provide services and support for people living within our provinces. We help fill the gaps between the healthcare system and needs of people living with ALS. We advocate federally, provincially and locally on behalf of people and their families for better government support and access within the healthcare system.

For more information about the ALS Society of Canada visit Follow on twitter @ALSCanada

About the ALS Canada Research Program
The ALS Society of Canada is a national organization responsible for the ALS Canada Research Program – funding peer-reviewed research grants and fostering collaboration amongst Canadian researchers, helping to nurture new ideas and build capacity. The program accepts applications for funding from Canadian ALS researchers. In 2014, ALS Canada enlisted an International Peer Review Panel consisting of seven world-class ALS researchers who evaluated and ranked applicants to ensure donated funds supported the best ALS research.

For more information about the ALS Canada Research Program visit Follow on twitter @ALSCanresearch

About Brain Canada
Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. For more than one decade, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries. Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families.

The Canada Brain Research Fund
The Canada Brain Research Fund is a public-private partnership designed to encourage Canadians to increase their support of brain research, and maximize the impact and efficiency of those investments. Brain Canada has committed to raising $100 million from private and non-governmental sources, which will be matched by the government on a 1:1 basis.  The Government of Canada committed up to $100 million over six years (2011-2017) to establish the Canada Brain Research Fund. This fund supports Canadian neuroscience research and advances knowledge and treatment of brain disease and mental disorders, including ALS.

For more information, visit us at
Follow us on twitter at @BrainCanada


For further information: Rebecca Grima, Director of Marketing and Communications, 905.248.2052 x234,