Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California announced on Sunday that its researchers recently received a $2.5 million federal grant, provided by the United States Department of Defense, to continue the organization’s research projects into novel treatments for Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
With the new funding, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center will launch a new research project, which will involve injecting a virus carrying curative proteins into rat nerve fibers in order to discover a way to fight ALS. The goal of this new treatment approach is to place the fighting protein directly into the nerve fibers, at the exact site of the disease.
Ever since baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with the disease, ALS awareness and research has become increasingly high-profile, particularly since war veterans who served overseas appear to be disproportionately affected, the primary motivating factor in the DoD’s decision to fund further research into combatting the disease. ALS is an aggressive disease that attacks nerve endings that are responsible for the body’s muscle control. The progression of the disease eventually leads to paralysis and death.
The hospital’s ongoing research project into ALS treatments, which will be headed by Clive Svendsen, director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai, will try to determine if a particular virus can be stripped of its genes, attached to a beneficial protein, and injected into the attacked nerves using lab rats.