All Press Releases for February 21, 2013

Spastic Paraplegia Foundation and Northeast ALS Consortium Announce Two Year, $200,000 Research Grant

SPF/NEALS Fellowship Grant intended to further cutting-edge research into ALS's little-known cousin, Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS).

    COLUMBUS, OH, February 21, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Spastic Paraplegia Foundation (SPF) and the Northeast Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Consortium (NEALS) have announced the first Virginia Freer-Sweeney Clinical Research Training Fellowship in primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). The fellowship highlights another successful collaboration between the NEALS Upper Motor Neuron Taskforce and the SPF. This training fellowship offers two years of salary support of $90,000 per year plus $10,000 per year for educational activities. A complete request for application (RFA) can be found at The application deadline is March, 15 2013.

The objective of this fellowship is to train outstanding junior clinical researchers to rapidly and efficiently translate advances in neuroscience into treatments for people with PLS. While little known, PLS is a rare disease with close ties to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and another very rare disease called hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). Both PLS and HSP are debilitating upper-motor neuron diseases that result in difficulty with walking due to slowly progressive spasticity in the lower limbs. PLS also affects speech, swallowing and the fine motor movements of the hands. HSP is typically isolated to the lower extremities.

It is estimated that HSP and PLS affect some 30,000 individuals in North American and some 200,000 individuals worldwide.

ALS, PLS, and HSP are very closely related from a clinical point of view because they share common outward symptoms or phenotypes. Often doctors have to wait for symptoms to progress significantly before finalizing a diagnosis of ALS, for example. They also share a common mechanism of pathology that makes them very interesting to researchers since discoveries in one yield benefits and insights into the others.

There are currently no treatments for PLS or HSP outside of some mild symptom relief. But, because these diseases open a window into the inner workings of some of the most interesting and mysterious cells in nature, upper motor neurons, they are attracting researchers from around the world who want to understand not only UMNs but how all cells function.

These discoveries stand to aid clinicians in the treatment all diseases, not just those associated with the central nervous system (CNS). It is for this reason, the SPF is proud to be partnering with NEALS in this important endeavor.

About the SPF
Founded in 2002, the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, Inc. is the only organization in the Americas dedicated to finding cures for hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). SPF is committed to providing information about for these disorders, creating opportunities for mutual support and sharing, and discovering the cures for HSP and PLS. Since its inception, SPF has raised more than $3M toward research into these ultra-rare conditions. For more information, please visit:

NEALS's mission is to translate scientific advances into new treatments for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and motor neuron disease (MND) as rapidly as possible. NEALS offers expertise in clinical trial design and conduct. It functions as an academic clinical research organization, and a resource tool for ALS community. NEALS was founded in 1995. Its research and training activities are managed from two coordinating centers located at Massachusetts General Hospital and SUNY Upstate Medical University. NEALS members include over 100 clinical centers throughout the United States and Canada For more information, please visit:

Media Contacts:

Allen Bernard
Board member and media liaison
614-475-4562 - office
614-937-2316 - mobile

Tara Lincoln
NEALS Program Manager

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Contact Information

Allen Bernard
Falls Church, VA
Voice: 614-475-4562
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