ALS-RAP Helps Ensure Highest-Quality Antibodies for the ALS Community

Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2018) – The ALS Association, in partnership with the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND Association) and the ALS Society of Canada, is pleased to announce $600,000 in funding to support the ALS Reproducible Antibody Platform (ALS-RAP). The funding will support the creation of an open-access pipeline to validate antibody research and provide the ALS research community with the highest quality reliable, renewable antibodies for ALS genes.

ALS-RAP was created as a public-private partnership comprised of world experts in antibody generation and validation, including Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and its associated labs at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) McGill University in Montreal (Canada), the University of Oxford (UK), and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden).

Standard operating procedures will be established to characterize ALS antibodies – both commercially available and newly created – to ensure these exceed SGC and the Neuro’s stringent quality criteria to establish a public list of “gold-standard” antibodies that will ultimately lay a solid foundation for successful ALS therapies.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which leads to total paralysis and death, usually within two to five years of diagnosis. The vast majority of ALS cases are believed to be caused by a diverse combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no cure.

Antibodies are among the most frequently used tools in basic science research and clinical assays. Researchers either purchase or generate their own antibodies to detect proteins in their model systems. In part due to lack of a common and transparent validation framework, antibodies often turn out to have high variability and low specificity. This may yield questionable results, leading to wasted time and money, and more importantly, compromising steady scientific progress to understand this challenging disease.

In response, ALS-RAP was formed to ensure the availability of the highest quality, validated antibodies developed using standard operating procedures that will be openly shared with the ALS research community. Notably, no form of intellectual property protection or patents will be filed for all new reproducible antibodies fully discovered and developed by ALS-RAP. This collaborative effort, based on open science and complete freedom to operate, will ensure the use of the highest-quality tools to increase the success of future drug discovery.

This partnership brings together antibody experts from institutions all over the world. The SGC is a global network of experienced academic and industry scientists that will contribute expertise in the development of reagents required for target validation and drug discovery.

ALS-RAP will be working with Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D. MBA, Chief Scientist, The ALS Association; Brian Dickie, Ph.D., Director of Research Development, the MND Association; and David Taylor, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, ALS Society of Canada. Janice Robertson, Ph.D., Professor at University of Toronto; Aaron Gitler, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics at Stanford University; Joe Lewcock, Ph.D., Head of Biology Discovery at Denali; and Janine Kirby, Ph.D., Reader in Neurogenetics at The University of Sheffield will serve as advisors and provide input and guidance into the panel of proposed antibodies to be generated.

An ALS Gene Prioritization Panel with additional experts will also be created to ensure that nomination of genes into ALS-RAP will be transparently responsive to requests for antibody creation and validation from the global ALS research community. Taken together with Open Science model and patent-free access to all outputs, it is expected that the ALS-RAP will galvanize and enable a faster and even more efficient development of therapies to address the ALS challenge, globally.

“The ALS Association is delighted to fund this exciting initiative and believe that it will be an extremely valuable open resource for researchers globally,” stated Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D.

“We are delighted to partner on this exciting new initiative to provide researchers with the ‘best tools for the job’, which will help improve the quality and pace of ALS research,“ said Brian Dickie, Ph.D, Director of Research, MND Association.

“This platform has the potential to accelerate our ability to understand and treat ALS by removing a long-standing hurdle to discovery, and ALS Canada is thrilled to be supporting it as part of this international partnership,” stated David Taylor, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, ALS Society of Canada.

“We are excited to be part of such a visionary initiative from the three leading ALS foundations to build a truly groundbreaking model to underpin the future of therapeutics discovery,” said Wen Hwa Lee, Ph.D., Director of Disease Foundations at the Structural Genomics Consortium and based at the University of Oxford.

About The ALS Association

The ALS Association is the only national nonprofit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, the Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at

About the Motor Neurone Disease Association

The MND Association was founded in 1979 by a group of volunteers with experience of living with or caring for someone with MND. They are the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning. The MND Association improves care and support for people with MND, their families and carers, funds and promotes research that leads to new understanding and treatments, and brings us closer to a cure for MND, and campaigns and raises awareness so the needs of people with MND and everyone who cares for them are recognized and addressed by wider society.

About the ALS Society of Canada

Founded in 1977, the ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) and our provincial partners are dedicated to supporting Canadians living with ALS and investing in research to make ALS a treatable, not terminal, disease. We are a registered charity that receives no government funding – all of our services and research are funded through the generosity of our donors. Through the ALS Canada Research Program, we fund peer-reviewed research grants, foster collaboration and build capacity within Canada’s ALS research community, and participate in new areas of research where we are well-positioned to have an impact. Within Ontario, ALS Canada has a role similar to that of the provincial ALS societies providing services and support to help meet the needs of people living with ALS. ALS Canada advocates federally, provincially, and locally for better government support and access within the healthcare system for people touched by ALS.

About the Structural Genomics Consortium

The SGC is a pre-competitive public-private partnership that accelerates research in human biology and drug discovery by making all of its research output freely available to the scientific community. To achieve its mission, the organization is building an open and collaborative network of scientists. The SGC has active research facilities at seven leading academic institutions across the globe (Toronto and Montreal-Canada, Oxford-UK, UNICAMP-Brazil, Karolinska-Sweden, UNC Chapel Hill-USA and Frankfurt-Germany), and SGC scientists collaborate with more than 300 researchers in academia and industry. The SGC is a registered charity (number 1097737) that receives funds from AbbVie, Bayer Pharma AG, Boehringer Ingelheim, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Eshelman Institute for Innovation, Genome Canada, Innovative Medicines Initiative (EU/EFPIA), Janssen, MSD, Merck KGaA, Novartis Pharma AG, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, Pfizer, São Paulo Research Foundation-FAPESP, Takeda, and Wellcome Trust. For more information, visit

Brian Frederick
The ALS Association

Posted in: Research