New Drug Treatment Shows Significant Benefit for People with ALS

These days, it seems everything is “news.” Or at least there needs to be enough “news” to fill the 24 hour news channels, your Facebook and Twitter feeds, and who knows how many website devoted to covering the “news.”

But in a time when everything claims to be “news,” it can be hard to tell when something genuinely newsworthy occurs. When we really ought to break out the “Breaking News” banners and pay attention.

For the ALS community, just such an event took place earlier this month, when the New England Journal of Medicine published encouraging clinical trial results showing that Amylyx Pharmaceuticals’ AMX0035 brought statistically significant benefit to people living with ALS. The study showed that AMX0035 decreased the rate of decline in the Revised ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R). The trial included 137 people with ALS and was conducted across 25 top medical centers through the Northeast ALS (NEALS) consortium.

People with ALS who received AMX0035 performed 2 points better on the ALSFRS-R compared to those who received the placebo. This is a statistically significant result, and in the real world could mean the difference between a person with ALS being able to feed themselves versus being fed, or the difference between needing a wheelchair versus not needing one.

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We Can’t Wait

We are all tired. Some of us are tired of working from home. Some of us are tired of waiting to get to work again. We are tired of cooking and doing the dishes for what seems like the millionth time. We want our kids to go back to school. We want to hug our friends. We want things to feel normal again.

We keep thinking about “when this is over….”

But ALS has no respect for COVID-19. It is not waiting patiently on the sidelines while we deal with this new interloper. Every 90 minutes, someone is either diagnosed with ALS or dies from the disease. While we are waiting for things to go back to normal, a person with ALS must face the fact that their average life expectancy is 2 to 5 years, regardless of how long this other pandemic lasts.

All of this is why we can’t wait. We can’t wait to find new treatments. We can’t wait to find a cure.

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“This Is Where I Need to Be Right Now”—Virtual ALS Advocacy Day Still Makes an Impact on Congress

In the past, ALS Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill has been a frenetic affair. It almost has to be when groups of ALS Advocates from across the country descend on the Capitol with maps in hand, ready to weave the halls and go from meeting to meeting with Senators, Representatives, and staff to tell the story of people with ALS and how Congress can help. It is a fruitful, yet exhausting, day for all involved.

This year, however, the knock on a door was replaced by the ring of the phone. For the safety of all involved, people with ALS, chapter staff, and board members couldn’t travel to Washington D.C. for the day. As with much in our world today, the visits had to be done remotely.

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An ALS Awareness Month Like No Other

No doubt, this is a May like no other. But at the same time, the world continues, and as we mark May as ALS Awareness Month, we take this opportunity to remind our larger community what our ALS community knows all too well: that even with all the uncertainty and unrest caused by COVID-19, ALS doesn’t stop, and neither do we as we work to support our ALS community as they face new and existing challenges.

Because of the need for extreme social distancing during this pandemic, people with ALS and their caregivers have no choice but to take extraordinary precautions and isolate themselves nearly completely. This means they are at risk of losing access to services that are traditionally delivered in person at their homes or in a clinic. Our Care Service team has been working to bridge this connection gap by reaching out by phone and video conference, and by ensuring people with ALS have access to their clinic staff in whatever way makes sense for them. Even as we have been working remotely, our staff has been in constant collaboration around how to best serve our community and how we can prepare for the time when can once again gather together.

But even though we are still mostly at home, you don’t have it sit this ALS Awareness Month out. There are many way you can have an impact on our fight to end ALS.

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ALS Cause Gets a Push in Both Houses of Congress

The narrative that nothing gets done in Washington saturates the media, as the does the narrative that bipartisanship is a thing of the past. Regardless of if you are a casual observer of political news or a news junkie, you might guess that everything that happens on Capitol Hill is all out political warfare, all of the time.

If so, you might be happy to learn that just since the beginning of 2020, bipartisan efforts in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are taking place that offer a real chance for significant movement in the area of ALS advocacy and ALS research.

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Wishing You a Hopeful New Year

As 2020 begins in earnest with the first full work week, we asked our Board Chair Josh Rogers to share some thoughts on the upcoming year. Here is Josh’s message for us all:

The ringing in of each new year brings with it hope. When the ball drops and fireworks fill the sky on New Year’s Eve, when we hang a new calendar on the wall and open it to January, when we walk through the front door at work on the first business day of the new year, we press the symbolic reset button on life. We put behind us the challenges and neglected resolutions of the year before and welcome with optimism the next 12 months.

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Building the Blocks of Congressional Action via ALS Advocacy—One Story at a Time

If you are an average American, you probably hold a low option of Congress. It has been more than 10 years since overall congressional approval ratings have inched above 30 percent, and during most of that time its rating has actually been somewhere below 20 percent. Among the reasons given for the lack of support is that “nothing gets done.”

But if you look beyond the hot button issues that dominate cable news, you often find that individual members of Congress and their staffs are not only open to, but eager to hear the thoughts of their constituents. They are, after all, elected by just these constituents, and listening to what they have to say is in a very real sense what they were elected to do.

As such, each June people with ALS, their families, and those who advocate for them gather in Washington, D.C., to learn about the latest ALS research, network, and visit Capitol Hill to share their stories with members of Congress and lay the groundwork for legislative victories. To be sure, the trip is not an easy one, especially for people with ALS. But many made the journey, and on Tuesday, June 11, the hallways of Capitol Hill were full with those advocating for people with ALS. In all, members of the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter, Chapter board members, and local residents with ALS met with the offices of 11 representatives or senators from Missouri and Illinois.

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You Are Part of Finding a Cure for ALS—By Being an Advocate

The role we can play as individuals in finding new treatments—and a cure—for ALS can seem small. Most of us aren’t world class medical researchers. Most of us don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to donate to funding those doing that research. Our role in fighting ALS seems minor by comparison, but it isn’t. By adding our voices to the chorus of voices advocating for people with ALS we can—and do—play an important part of the fight for a cure.

As we continue with ALS Awareness Month, we wanted to look at ALS advocacy and explore what is being done, what can be accomplished, and what you can do.

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Making Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

On March 13 and 14, ALS advocates went to Capitol Hill to speak with representatives about legislation and policies intended to improve the lives of people with ALS. ALS advocates Mark Calmes and Tara Klucker had preliminary meetings with key legislators that are pertinent to our legislative priorities.

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Communities Join Together to Support People with ALS and Fight for a Cure

A community partner event is a fundraising activity that is organized and managed by a family, group or individual who is acting independent of The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter. This August, five community partner events took place across eastern Missouri and central and southern Illinois, ranging from a tractor pull, an awareness walk before a baseball game, and two different golf tournaments. There was even an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge event earlier this month, four years after the original Ice Bucket Challenge swept social media and national headlines. This August, and every August until we find a cure, reminds us that great things happen when we come together. With all of the extra events throughout the region it was even more exceptional.

Each event has a huge impact on the community and helps people with ALS and their families in several ways. Here are five reasons community partner events are a great way to get involved in the fight against ALS.

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