332 delegates, 135 posters, 41 talks, one goal: to cure ALS
The European Network for the Cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ENCALS) was set up to find a cure for ALS/MND by working collaboratively across 35 research centres (universities and hospitals) throughout Europe.
The 14th meeting of ENCALS took place in Milan between 19-21 May and was attended by scientists and doctors from across Europe. Researchers from the USA and Canada were also invited to present at this meeting.
Presentations on day one of this year’s meeting looked at some of the techniques to help identify genetic changes (mutations) linked to MND, such as whole genome sequencing. This is a rapidly growing area of research, thanks to Project MinE – a global effort to find MND causing genes.
Clinical research was the focus on day two, and discussed the latest imaging and biomarker research. This is an important area as it will offer new ways to help track the progression of MND, and help to speed up diagnosis of this disease.
Our researchers present their work
MND Association funded researcher Prof Vladimir Buchman attended ENCALS with his research group from Cardiff University. Their research uses a mouse model of MND to study the role of the FUS gene in detail and its involvement in MND.
Dr Michail Kukharsky, a post-doctoral researcher funded by us on this project presented a poster on a protein called CREST (calcium-responsive transactivator), which has been shown to interact with FUS. Prof Buchman’s PhD student Haiyan An was presented with an award for her poster on research into cell models on the effects of the FUS gene in ALS/MND.
Dr Richard Mead from the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) holds the Kenneth Snowman MND Association lectureship. His research involves screening potential MND drugs using a mouse model and is a member on our Biomedical Research Advisory panel, helping to review the grant applications we receive.
At the ENCALS meeting he presented on his early stage research into whether a drug recently licensed for Multiple Sclerosis could be beneficial in a mouse model of MND.
Encouraging young MND researchers
This meeting is a chance for the European ALS/MND research community to come together. As it is smaller than our International Symposium on ALS/MND, it is the perfect opportunity for young researchers to present their data, sometimes speaking for the first time at an international meeting.
Jodie Stephenson, who is supervised by Dr Mead at SITraN, gave a talk on her research into a TDP-43 mouse models of MND. This followed on from Jodie presenting a poster on her work at the International Symposium last year. She was helped in attending both ENCALS and the symposium thanks to the support of the Association’s South Yorkshire branch.
ENCALS also gives young researchers the opportunity meet with more established members of the MND research community. Making contacts with potential colleagues of the future ensures the best and brightest young researchers remain in MND research.
Dr Pagnini is researching mindfulness and how it can be used to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people with MND, and whether it has any impact on disease progression too. He has previously looked into how mindfulness can benefit MND caregivers also.
Collaborating to find a cure
Research into MND is a collaborative effort and does not happen in isolation. At the ENCALS meeting, researchers can take on board the latest findings in their specialist area of MND research and speak to those involved in carrying out this work. Contacts made at ENCALS can result in sharing expertise and resources across borders and laboratory benches.
Our research grants manager, Dr Sadie Vile, attended this year’s ENCALS meeting. She found it a great opportunity to thank researchers who help with peer review of the grant applications we receive twice a year (see this video for more information on peer review), as well as meet new researchers who can potentially help us with this in future.
For more information on funding research involving animals please see our website.