What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. ALS causes motor neuron degeneration – this means that certain cells in the brain and spinal cord break down, leading to weakness and difficulty with movement. More than 3000 Canadians are affected by ALS and related motor neuron diseases.
What is CALSNIC?
The Canadian ALS Neuroimaging Consortium (CALSNIC) is a national research platform that facilitates clinical and translational research across multiple centres. It includes a multidisciplinary group of scientists with expertise in neuroscience, advanced brain imaging, and computing science.
CALSNIC was founded in response to the need of a biomarker (a biological marker) of degeneration in ALS. We anticipate projects being conducted in CALSNIC will lead to the discovery of MRI-based biomarkers of cerebral degeneration that will impact the lives of ALS patients by:
- Being incorporated in drug trials as an outcome measure of disease progression and response to therapy
- Assisting with patient selection for clinical trials based on biomarker profiles
- Providing a test that can expedite diagnosis, allowing access to trials and multidisciplinary patient care at an earlier stage of the disease
Thus, a biomarker will lead to the discovery of treatments faster and improve patient care.
How is this research made possible?
CALSNIC is funded by an operational grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and an Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant from the ALS Society of Canada and Brain Canada. The latter was made possible by the generosity of individuals donating money to ALS Canada, including money raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge.