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Prize4Life Awards $1 Million Prize for Discovery of ALS Biomarker

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Prize4Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the discovery of a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) by offering incentives to drive innovation, today announced that Dr. Seward Rutkove, Chief of the Division of Neuromuscular Disease at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, has received the $1 million dollar Prize4Life award for the discovery of a new ALS biomarker.

In 2006, the organization announced its $1 million ALS Biomarker Challenge with the goal of finding a biomarker that could reduce the cost of phase II clinical trials. Dr. Rutkove’s work demonstrated the potential to reduce the cost of phase II trials by 50% or more, which could facilitate more rapid development of new and better treatments for ALS.

Dr. Rutkove’s research identified a new way to measure how sick a muscle is and track its changes over time. The method is called electrical impedance myography (EIM) and is based on the observation that as a muscle becomes more diseased, electrical current moves through it differently. EIM provides researchers an objective, quantifiable way to measure how well a potential ALS treatment is working to halt disease progression.

Although the practice of measuring electrical impedance has a long history of use in a variety of medical and non-medical applications, it has never been optimized to measure localized muscle changes associated with neuromuscular disease. The biomarker discovery gives drug developers a highly precise way to measure the effectiveness of experimental therapies earlier, potentially reducing the time and cost of Phase II clinical trials and propelling the availability of new and better treatments for ALS.

Melanie Leitner, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Prize4Life said:

The ALS community has long been searching for a new biomarker for ALS. There are currently no precise measures of ALS disease progression that allow for short-term monitoring of the disease and the assessment of treatment efficacy. Dr. Rutkove’s careful and thorough body of work addresses this need, offering renewed hope for the development of new and varied treatment options for the many patients and their families suffering from ALS.

Source: Prize4Life