New York, NY (February 10, 2016) – Target ALS Foundation, a collaborative research consortium focused on discovering treatments and a cure for ALS, has received a $5 million donation from Biogen that will fund critical ALS research across a network of academic laboratories. The Biogen donation helps establish the Industry Fund for ALS Research and launches a challenge to raise $20 million for Target ALS from other industry donors to support precompetitive research of value to the whole ALS community. Biogen has further committed to matching 50 percent of contributions by biotech and pharmaceutical companies to the fund through 2018. Companies contributing more than $1 million will be given the title of Founding Member.
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig ’s disease) is a debilitating and fatal disorder that strikes patients and their families in the prime of their lives. In the 150 years since it was first described, no effective treatment has been discovered, but recent progress in biological, genetic and clinical research has raised hope that we may be making progress toward slowing or stopping the devastating paralysis that characterizes the disease.
“Our goal is to increase the number, robustness and intensity of active ALS drug development programs in the biopharmaceutical industry by supporting the most promising preclinical research and fostering vital interactions between academia and industry,” says Manish Raisinghani, M.D., Ph.D., president of Target ALS Foundation. “We are grateful for the generous support of Biogen and other organizations that fund our important mission, and look forward to welcoming new industry collaborators to our urgent search for a treatment for people living with ALS.”
Donations to Target ALS fund the exploration of potent ideas that might not have advanced otherwise, and have enabled the creation of new models for scientific collaboration. Philanthropic support has sparked more collaborative relationships between academic and industrial partners, yet few therapeutic targets – essential for drug development and later clinical trials – have been validated. Target ALS, working together with other ALS foundations, aims to fill this gap.
“Biogen is deeply committed to ALS research and will continue to contribute both intellectually and financially to the search for a treatment for this devastating disease,” says Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Biogen. “We challenge our industry peers to join us in pre-competitive support of Target ALS and their groundbreaking mission to drive research collaboration across the public and private sectors.”
The central strategy of Target ALS is to discover, validate and help develop new therapeutic targets – molecular steps involved in the disease pathway which, when blocked by a drug, could slow or prevent disease progression. The network aims to drive the emergence of new ALS drug discovery programs in multiple biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies through the creation of academic and industry consortia, the establishment of specialized core facilities for the international ALS community, and by facilitating the transition of talented young investigators to independent careers in ALS research.
Through cutting-edge science and medicine, Biogen discovers, develops and delivers to patients worldwide innovative therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, hematologic conditions and autoimmune disorders. Founded in 1978, Biogen is one of the world’s oldest independent biotechnology companies and patients worldwide benefit from its leading multiple sclerosis and innovative hemophilia therapies. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the company, please visit www.biogen.com.
About Target ALS Foundation
Target ALS is an independent, non-profit, and privately funded consortium of researchers from academic and biotech/pharma laboratories entirely focused on finding a treatment for patients living with ALS. The organization funds 19 preformed research consortia involving investigators across 30 academic institutions. Target ALS also funds Springboard Fellowships for emerging research leaders to found their own laboratories, as well as nationwide core facilities accessible to all in academia and industry. Our support of U.S. and international collaborations lies at the heart of our push for better target validation and drug discovery for ALS. For more information, please visit www.targetals.org.