Rare Disease Report

HDSA Partners with ALS Association and Teva for CNS Disorder Research

MARCH 13, 2018
Mathew Shanley
An estimated 300 million people worldwide are affected by disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), and to address the severe, unmet need for new therapies, the ALS Association, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), and Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. are teaming together to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Together, the three sides are launching the Teva CNS Target Identification Challenge, a crowdsourcing effort to seek novel targets with therapeutic potential.

The Teva CNS Target Identification Challenge requests that researchers from around the world submit proposals for novel drug targets implicated in neurodegenerative disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease (HD), among others, including Parkinson’s disease and migraine and headache disorders.

Conditions concerning the CNS are almost always associated with diverse and debilitating symptoms, including severe pain, fatigue, lack of motor coordination and balance, and paralysis. Treatment options, at present, are limited, and new approaches are always needed. Thus, this threesome is aiming to receive proposals for novel intracellular or extracellular targets with therapeutic potential to better the quality of life (QOL) of people suffering from these neurodegenerative diseases.

Both The ALS Association and HDSA, co-sponsors of the Challenge, will consider the best ideas related to their respective diseases for grant awards toward collaborative translational research projects with Teva. The top submissions will be eligible to receive awards ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, and up to $40,000 in cash may be distributed.

“The identification and validation of new molecular targets that contribute to disease processes is an essential step toward developing new treatment to help patients,” said Steffen Nock, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Specialty Research & Development, at Teva Global R&D in a press release. “We are enthusiastic about the Teva CNS Target Identification Challenge as an opportunity to identify therapeutically relevant targets in strategic areas of interest to Teva, as well as to identify researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds and unique expertise related to the target of interest as potential collaboration partners.”

George Yohrling, PhD, has served as the Senior Director, Mission and Scientific Affairs for the HDSA since 2012. “The identification of novel, well-validated targets, other than the causative gene huntingtin, to confidently launch a Huntington’s disease drug discovery program, remains a critical gap in our research community,” he said of the Challenge.

An estimated 30,000 people in the United States are living with HD; the same number of Americans that are afflicted by ALS. For both patient populations, initiatives, like this one, that encourage new research are much needed.

“This is a particularly robust time for drug development opportunities in ALS, with many more small companies entering the ALS field. Prioritizing and identifying the most promising targets for ALS drug development, as well as encouraging new ideas and investigators, are key to driving the pipeline of potential ALS therapies,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., MBA, Chief Scientist, The ALS Association. “The ALS Association is pleased to partner with Teva on this important initiative.”

The Teva CNS Target Identification Challenge was launched by Teva, The ALS Association and the HDSA in collaboration with InnoCentive, a company specializing in crowdsourcing. More information about the Challenge can be found at innocentive.com/tevachallenge.

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