Tuesday, January 16, 2007


TUCSON, Ariz. Jan. 16, 2007 — The largest ALS drug discovery project in
history was launched today as a joint venture by the Muscular Dystrophy
Association (MDA), through its Augie's Quest initiative, and the ALS Therapy
Development Institute.

The three-year, $36 million project will attempt to identify
biochemical targets and find drugs that work on them in ALS (amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease).

The collaboration will be funded by MDA's Augie's Quest, a
fast-track ALS research program, and by the Institute (formerly the ALS
Therapy Development Foundation). MDA, through Augie's Quest, will grant at
least $6 million a year for the next three years; the Institute will add its
$6 million annual budget to the project. MDA's funding for this
collaboration is above and beyond its existing ALS research expenditures.

"This project represents a declaration of war on ALS, and this
is a war we intend to win by building the best scientific and technologic
army in the world," said Augie Nieto, co-chairman with his wife, Lynne, of
MDA's ALS Division. "Amazing things can happen when you combine the drive to
succeed with money and technology."

Research will take place at the Institute's 16,000-square-foot
lab in Cambridge, Mass. James Heywood, who started the organization in 1999
after his brother

Stephen received an ALS diagnosis, said, "This collaboration
allows for a massive application of cutting-edge technology, combined with
proven drug development techniques. There's no doubt in my mind that
ultimately we're going to be successful."

Stephen Heywood died in November when the ventilator that
allowed him to breathe malfunctioned while he slept.

ALS is a progressive neurological disease that affects the
nerves that send signals to the muscles. It causes paralysis of all
voluntary muscles and ultimately death, usually within three to five years.
The cause is unknown.

"The causes of ALS have been a tragic mystery for too long,"
said MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis, noting that Lou Gehrig's widow,
Eleanor, held a voluntary leadership position with MDA for many years. "This
project is a giant step toward a solution to that mystery and a cure for

Augie Nieto has been named chairman of the board for the ALS
Therapy Development Institute and Steve Perrin, formerly an executive at the
biotechnology company Biogen Idec, will be its chief scientific officer.
Former Institute vice president of drug discovery Sean Scott will serve as
its president.

About Augie's Quest

Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto started Augie's Quest (www.augiesquest.org) in
conjunction with MDA's ALS Division after his ALS diagnosis in March 2005.
Nieto is co-founder and former president of Life Fitness, and chairman of
Octane Fitness.

About MDA

MDA (www.mda.org) is the world's largest provider of ALS services and funder
of ALS research. Over the years, it has expended almost $200 million in this
effort. It operates 225 neuromuscular disease clinics across the country and
37 ALS-specific research and care centers.

About the ALS Therapy Development Institute

The ALS Therapy Development Institute (www.als.net) is a nonprofit
biotechnology company dedicated to translating research into potential drug
treatments by testing drugs in the SOD1 mouse model of ALS. Since its
inception in 1999, the Institute has become a leader in ALS transgenic mouse
studies, providing a new level of understanding of ALS, as well as related
disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.


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