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Media Contact: Janet Christenbury 03 February 2004    
  (404) 727-8599   Print  | Email ]

ALS Center Receives Major Gift from Patient
The ALS Center at Emory University recently received its largest personal contribution towards ALS research at Emory. Patient Steve Wakefield and his wife Pam gave $100,000 to support further research in ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

ALS is a disease that slowly and progressively robs patients of muscle control and movement throughout the body. In the latter stages of the disease, muscles often become totally paralyzed, while cognitive function usually remains unaffected.

Supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and the ALS Association, the ALS Center at Emory is the only one of its kind in Georgia. Jonathan D. Glass, MD, professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of Emory's ALS Center treats patients while continuing to research for causes and potential treatments for their disease.

"This gift is a wonderful show of support and confidence in our work," says Dr. Glass. "Community support is not only helpful, it is essential!"

Attorney Steve Wakefield was diagnosed with a form of ALS, called PLS (primary lateral sclerosis), eight years ago. PLS has some of the same symptoms as ALS, but progresses more slowly and is typically not fatal.

"Emory is the premier institution in the Southeast in treatment and research for ALS and other motor neuron diseases," says Mr. Wakefield. "Through the superb work of Dr. Jonathan Glass and others working with him, I am confident that a cure for these diseases will be developed within the foreseeable future so that those suffering from these diseases may be healed and returned to a normal life."

With the help of the Wakefields' generous contribution, Dr. Glass will begin testing a molecular "library" of new compounds and their ability to prevent motor neuron disease in genetically engineered ALS mice.

"In our laboratories, we are looking not only for treatments for ALS and PLS," Dr. Glass explains, "but we are also studying genetic and environmental factors that may play a role in the cause of these diseases. Steve's support will prove valuable for all of these endeavors."

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