Support for non-animal research to find a cure for ALS
I was delighted to hear that the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge raised $220 million last year for research into a cure for ALS. As someone who is concerned about sparing animal suffering, especially in light of the failure of animals to successfully model human disease, I am writing to request that this money be used to fund only productive, non-animal research into a cure for ALS. In April 2015, researchers at John Hopkins Medicine announced their landmark study that created human ALS brain cells programmed from skin cells of ALS patients. The cells demonstrate the pathology seen in ALS neural cells and have been used to create the world’s first “library” of human cells to aid in the study of a cure for ALS. The cell library will be shared worldwide and allow for other ALS researchers to contribute additional cells for further study. The study’s senior author, Dr. Jeffrey Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D, has pointed out how 25 years of research on mouse models of ALS has not produced a single effective treatment, much less a cure. ALS patients deserve the best resources towards developing a cure. Funding must go towards productive human-based science to tap the full potential of research into ALS. As Dr. Rothstein explains: “We make brain cells out of the patient’s own skin. These human cellular tools will serve as a platform to understand ALS and someday discover new drugs to treat our patients. Now we have a real model for what’s wrong with my patients.” I urge ALSA to use the most effective human-relevant research to find a cure and alleviate the suffering of many thousands of ALS patients.
This is going to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association
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