Jupiter Scripps prof, partners get $7.2M to carry on ALS bucket fight

A Jupiter professor and collaborators are getting $7.2 million in a new grant to continue a quest begun when millions  of people dumped buckets of ice water on their heads to fight a terrible disease.

Dr. Matthew Disney

The goal: “Before people ever get symptoms, delay those or inhibit them altogether” for diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, said professor Matthew Disney of the Department of Chemistry on the Jupiter campus of The Scripps Research Institute.

The money comes from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of The National Institutes of Health. Partners in the work include Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Our work has changed the view of what is considered a druggable target,” Disney said, “This grant is a clear recognition of that accomplishment.”

The funding will “allow us to more rigorously assess” if a small molecule drug can be developed to target genes linked with the most common inherited form of ALS and a form of dementia, he said. That’s a crucial step toward making a drug for patients, he said.

An estimated 30,000 people, including 1,500 in Florida, live with ALS annually. The diseases typically robs people of their lives two to five years after diagnosis, after attacking essential skills like speaking, walking and swallowing.

 

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