The ALS Association’s Research Program

The ALS Association’s global research program, TREAT ALS (Translational Research Advancing Therapies for ALS), has remained at the forefront of ALS research since its inception in 1985.  We are the largest private funder of ALS research worldwide, and our efforts have led to some of the most promising and significant advances in ALS research.  Our approach is global – the world is our lab – enabling us to fund the top ALS researchers worldwide and ensure that the most promising research continues to be supported.  We fund projects across the research pipeline, from basic research through clinical trials, and our support has led to several potential treatments currently in clinical trials.  Since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, we have tripled the amount we spend in research every year- from $6 million to over $18 million – and we are committed to maintaining – and even increasing – this level.

2017 Research

The ALS Association supports a wide breadth of specific fields of study that are critical to advancing ALS research.  We are always on the lookout for the next cutting-edge field to invest in.  Below is a breakdown of some of the fields of study we are focused on:

Biomarkers The ALS Association is committed to biomarker discover, as their potential is immense.  Identifying biomarkers is vital to improving diagnosis, following disease progression, tracking response to therapy, and make clinical trials more efficient.  Our support of the TDP-43 Biomarkers Grand Challenge Program is just one example.  Dr. Timothy Miller and his team at Washington University in St. Louis won this challenge and are working to develop a biomarker to track TDP-43, a protein found in almost all cases of ALS.  Learn more about the project here.

Assistive Technology The ALS Association is working to develop accessible, portable devices for people living with ALS, in order to help them maintain a high quality of life.  The ALS Assistive Technology Challenge winners we announced in December 2016 are dedicated to achieving this! Learn more about the challenge.  Read about the winners here.

Environmental Factors Multiple factors in one’s lifestyle and surroundings, such as smoking and military service, are the only known ALS risk factors.  The ALS Association champions multiple efforts to better understand these risk factors to better understand these risk factors and drive discovery of other factors that may contribute to ALS.  Learn more about environmental factors.

Natural History Studies These studies are important to understanding the natural disease course of familial (inherited) ALS.  The ALS Association is supporting several natural history studies of SOD1 and C9orf72 ALS, which are critical to helping inform patient care and clinical testing of new treatment approaches.  Learn more about current natural history studies here.

Clinical Studies The ALS Association supports clinical management grants to improve the lives of people living with ALS and their caregivers, along with clinical trials to accelerate treatments through the drug development pipeline.  Find more information on clinical studies and current studies in clinical trials here.

Cognitive Studies There is a great deal of evidence that cognitive impairment is connected to ALS, such as overlap with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).  The ALS Association is committed to improving understanding of why and how this connection takes place.  For more information on FTD, see our past blog post.

Drug Development The ALS Association is supporting development of several different treatment approaches, including small molecules, stem cells, and gene therapy.  Our early support of antisense drugs in 2004 has paid off!  Antisense therapies have already proven effective in spiral muscular atrophy (SMA), are in trial for SOD1 and are starting in the near future targeting C9orf72.  Learn more about drug development here.

View all of the ALS Association’s scientific focus areas and even more information about current research at

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