Dr. Richard Robitaille, ALS researcher and professor in the Department of Neurosciences at the Université de Montréal, is investigating how to slow down disease progression by keeping muscles stronger for longer. In ALS patients, faulty nerve-muscle connections at tiny sites called neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) prevent muscles from receiving signals to contract or relax. Dr. Robitaille is hopeful learning how and why this occurs will lead to new treatments that could improve the quality of life, and even prolong life, for people diagnosed with ALS.

The excitement among members of Dr. Robitaille’s team is tangible. In a relatively short time, they have a discovery in the lab they want to bring to the clinic. That excitement is being shared with families affected by ALS who are invited to the lab so they can learn more about the research being conducted, ask questions, and talk about their own first- hand experience with the disease.

“Seeing the energy of patients with ALS, their will to fight back, it’s just so impressive” says Dr. Robitaille.




Beyond the scope of his own research, Dr. Robitaille sees leading edge scientific inquiry within the Canadian ALS research community that is exemplary in terms of expertise, a willingness to collaborate, and a steadfast commitment to finding effective new treatments. “The ALS community has never been so dynamic. We are increasing our understanding about ALS and improving scientific models and clinical trials at an unprecedented pace,” he says. Progress cannot come fast enough, but the ALS community is poised to make promising new discoveries that could be a game changer for families affected by ALS.


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Clara El Matni