About ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating adult-onset neurodegenerative disease that kills the nerve cells responsible for voluntary muscle movements, such as for walking, talking, swallowing and breathing. ALS starts as a mild muscle weakness that progresses relentlessly to complete paralysis and death, usually within 2-5 years from diagnosis. There is no known cure or effective treatment, and so the emotional and financial impact to the person with the disease and their families, is enormous.

Approximately 5-10% of ALS cases are inherited, with a number of genes now identified as being causative of the disease. The remaining 90-95% of cases have no known cause, and are sporadic. Despite this, however, both familial and sporadic forms of the disease appear clinically identical, and so what we learn about one form of the disease is likely to have a bearing on our understanding of the other types of the disease, and ultimately lead to the treatments that are so desperately needed.



Contributing to ALS Research:
The James Hunter Family ALS Initiative

In early 2011, the Board of Directors of NexGen Financial generously committed their director’s fees in support of ALS research at the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. This initial commitment intends to contribute $300,000 over the next 3 years.

More funding is needed to address this debilitating disease and to support the stated priorities of the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases.

In their research toward ALS, the Tanz Centre is pursuing the following immediate goals:

  • To develop accurate diagnostic technology
    It can take 1-2 years before a definitive diagnosis of ALS is given. By this time much of the damage is already done. It is therefore essential to develop methods to provide an early and accurate diagnosis so that treatments can be initiated as soon as possible.
  • To understand the mechanisms of the disease
    It is through understanding how the disease process works that strategies can designed to block the toxic pathways that cause neurons to die.
  • To develop effective therapeutics and ultimate cure
    The eventual goal of the research initiative is to identify the key causes of ALS and to design therapeutics that will halt and/or prevent the disease.

This recent support for the James Hunter Family ALS Initiative will make possible major advances in the way that ALS is investigated:

  • Design screens to identify drugs that will neutralize the toxic protein entities that we have shown to be causative of some forms of the disease. This discovery based project is 100% driven to identify novel therapeutics for the treatment of ALS, and has promise for future commercialization.
  • Build upon a recently established collaborative link with colleagues in Japan to study a naturally-occurring animal model of ALS.

With these new approaches the Tanz Centre is at the leading edge of ALS research today – and this can only be maintained and expanded through the ongoing support of the James Hunter Family ALS Initiative.

Please help support reduce the impact of this disease through your generosity.


The Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases

The Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases (CRND) at the University of Toronto is a scientific powerhouse at the global forefront of research into the causes and cures of the major age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Led by Professor Peter St George Hyslop, an internationally preeminent scientist, the CRND has made many of the world’s most important discoveries in the genetics of these diseases, and led the way in understanding biological mechanisms that are vital to therapeutic discovery.




Research, Diagnosis, Cure (Fundraising Goal → $5,000,000)

With the possibility of increased support and the establishment of the James Hunter Family ALS Initiative we hope to raise enough funding to continue and expand on work already underway.

Through the generosity of your contributions reduce and eventually eliminate the devastating effects of this disease.

Please help support reduce the impact of this disease through your generosity