May is a month of renewal. The landscape turns green again. Flowers add splashes of color to nature’s palate. Critters in hibernation much of the preceding months are seen venturing out and enjoying the newfound warmth.
May is also ALS Awareness Month. ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and denotes a relentlessly progressive group of disorders that, sometimes quite rapidly and sometimes more slowly but always unfairly destroys the motor system in the spinal cord and brain that enables the muscles to move. ALS robs healthy people of their ability to walk, lift a cup, speak so they can be heard and understood, and, eventually, eat and breathe.
NINDS is committed to enabling and conducting the science that will one day make ALS a livable disease. This means there is an urgent need for new therapies. NIH has consistently increased our investment in ALS research, which has more than doubled since 2015. We are also promoting innovative research ideas through our Accelerating Leading-edge Science in ALS (ALS2) initiative and creating, with our many partners, a strategic plan to better understand and ultimately treat ALS.
We have also just issued a new Request for Applications (RFA) authorized by the recently enacted Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act (also known as ACT for ALS). We will be funding research that uses data gathered from people with ALS who receive investigational treatments but who are not able to participate in a clinical trial. The goal is to use these data to accelerate the pace of ALS drug development.
May is indeed a month of renewal. Through renewed awareness of and redoubled efforts to study, diagnose, treat, and prevent ALS, we will bring a springtime of hope to patients and families around the world.