Campus Alert: Find the latest UMMS campus news and resources at umassmed.edu/coronavirus

Search Close Search

Print

Angel Fund contributes $1 million for ALS research at UMass Medical School

UMass Medical School Communications

February 21, 2020

angel-fund-$1M-2020.jpgThe Angel Fund for ALS Research donated $1 million last year to support the research of Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and professor of neurology. 

“We can do this because of the tremendous support of our donors, our supporters and our board. Without research, there is no cure,” said Richard Kennedy, president of the Angel Fund, a nonprofit organization that is deeply committed to supporting Dr. Brown’s research.

Kennedy was diagnosed with ALS in 2016 at the age of 56. ALS has been a part of his family since 1989 when the disease claimed his father. His youngest brother, Jimmy, was diagnosed several years later and died from ALS at the age of 31. His brother Jake was diagnosed in late 2019.

“At a time when funding is so crucial, we are pleased to honor our commitment to Dr. Brown’s research with our most recent donation,” Kennedy said “We can do so because we are fortunate to have supporters that care so much and help us by hosting events, participating in the events, donating and volunteering. All for our mission—to find a treatment and cure for ALS.”

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. People with ALS slowly lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. While 10 percent of ALS is familial in origin because of a genetic defect, the other 90 percent of ALS cases are considered sporadic, or without a family history. A study published last year by Brown showed that a single transplantation of a bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell treatment for ALS called NurOwn was safe and well tolerated by patients. The results were published in the journal Neurology. Developed by BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Inc., NurOwn cell therapy is the furthest advanced autologous stem cell treatment in development for ALS.