Webinars and education

Free to access and open to all, our webinars will help you learn about the latest advancements in ALS research, how donor dollars are supporting one of the best ALS research programs in the world and how to get involved in clinical trials to help make ALS a treatable, not terminal, disease. Some webinars feature guest speakers from the Canadian ALS research community who share details about their work and address key topics in the field.


The ALS Treatment Pipeline

A webinar by Neurologists for Canadians affected by ALS

Thursday, November 30, 2017
4:00 – 5:00pm Eastern Time

Presented by the Canadian ALS Research Network
Sponsored by the ALS Canada Research Program

The Canadian ALS Research Network (CALS), a group of ALS clinicians and researchers across Canada, will be holding a webinar offering perspectives on ALS treatments including edaravone as well as others in development. The webinar will be a panel discussion featuring:

  • Dr. Wendy Johnston, Director of the Edmonton ALS Clinic and Co-Chair of CALS
  • Dr. Geneviève Matte, Director of the ALS Clinic at CHUM – Hôpital Notre-Dame
  • Dr. Colleen O’Connell, Director of the Fredericton ALS Clinic and Co-Chair of CALS
  • Dr. Christen Shoesmith, Director of the London ALS Clinic

The webinar will be moderated by Dr. David Taylor, Vice President Research for ALS Canada, which is sponsoring the webinar. He will provide a brief overview of edaravone, masitinib, NurOwn, tirasemtiv and other experimental treatments currently in clinical trials.

Questions for the panel can be submitted in advance by email to research@als.ca or during the webinar itself using the webinar control panel. Questions can be submitted either in English or French.

The webinar will be conducted primarily in English, and efforts will be made to provide some information in French. It will also be recorded for future streaming.

Register now

Archived Webinars

Virtual Research Forum

2017 ALS Canada Virtual Research Forum: a free, two-day, webinar featuring world-class researchers in the field of ALS

For a disease like ALS that has no cure and few effective treatments, research is a tremendous source of hope. For the second year running, the ALS Canada Research Program presented a free Virtual Research Forum open to anyone interested in learning more about some of the ALS research currently underway and therapies in development. Hosted by Dr. David Taylor, VP Research at ALS Canada, the Virtual Research Forum featured more than twenty speakers and panelists and took place over two days.

Select presentations from the Virtual Research Forum are available for on-demand viewing below. Please note that the forum was conducted in English – we will be identifying future opportunities to offer research updates in both official languages.

Biomarkers for C9ORF72-associated ALS

Dr. Tania Gendron
Mayo Clinic

Mutations in the C9ORF72 gene have been identified as the most common genetic cause of ALS. Toxic substances, called dipeptide repeats (DPR), produced as a result of these mutations are believed to play a key role in the development of ALS. In this webinar, Dr. Gendron, a Canadian working at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, describes her work to determine whether these cellular byproducts can be used as biomarkers of ALS and allow researchers to more effectively test new ALS treatments. Dr. Gendron explains that the levels of these toxic DPR substances in biological fluid samples of people living with C9ORF72-associated ALS can help researchers to determine things like whether the drug is interacting with the correct target, how much of the drug is needed, and when the drug should be given.

View the webinar

Cannabinoid use in ALS

*Dr. Mark Ware
McGill University

With a clinical management grant through the ALS Canada Research Program, Dr. Mark Ware is leading a team of Canadian researchers who will participate in the upcoming Phase 2 clinical trial designed to test the safety and efficacy of using cannabis (marijuana) extracts to better manage the symptoms of ALS. Previous studies have shown that cannabis-based medicines may improve quality of life by reducing pain, drooling, speech difficulties, breathing issues, depression and sleep disorders. Dr. Ware explains how cannabis can influence such a variety of different symptoms and presents preliminary work that highlights the positive effects cannabis-based medications can have in ALS animal models.

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Cognition in ALS – it’s not what you think

*Dr. Michael Strong
Western University

In this webinar, Dr. Michael Strong discusses the relationship between ALS and frontotemporal dementia. It is well-known that a subset of people living with ALS will develop or present with some form of frontotemporal dementia. Frontotemporal dysfunction is linked to problems with memory, language and behaviour (e.g. irritability, loss of sympathy, etc.). Dr. Strong introduces revised criteria for the diagnosis of frontotemporal dysfunction in ALS that will be valuable to researchers, clinicians and people affected by ALS. He also goes on to present recent work that identifies the toxic protein modification responsible for frontotemporal dysfunction in many ALS cases and highlights drug treatments that have proven to be effective at preventing this toxic modification in laboratory studies.

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Getting to know pimozide in ALS

*Dr. Lawrence Korngut
University of Calgary

Pimozide is a medication originally used to treat schizophrenia that has shown promise in treating people living with ALS. In this webinar, Dr. Lawrence Korngut describes the evolution of pimozide from laboratory studies on worms and fish to the Phase 2 clinical trial that will launch in late 2017. This Canadian clinical trial is supported by an ALS Canada-Brain Canada Arthur J Hudson Translational Team Grant and will test whether treatment with pimozide slows the progression of ALS in humans. Dr. Korngut, the trial’s principal investigator, outlines the design of the trial as well as the eligibility criteria for participation.

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Lazarus by Lunasin? Untangling an ALS X-file

Dr. Richard Bedlack
Duke University

Many people living with ALS self-experiment with alternative treatments that are advertised to slow, stop or reverse ALS without trustworthy scientific evidence that backs up these claims. Often these alternative treatments have no therapeutic benefit and in some cases can even be harmful. This is why Dr. Richard Bedlack created ALSUntangled, an online forum designed to engage people living with ALS in shared decision-making about what alternate treatments are worth trying. The ALSUntangled team conducts comprehensive reviews of the most-requested therapies using a scientific approach of gathering evidence and reporting results. In this webinar Dr. Bedlack describes the ALSUntangled process, as well as two new programs he is founding based on the study of ultra-rare cases where ALS symptoms have reversed (referred to as an ALS reversal). The first program is called Replication of ALS Reversals (R.O.A.R) and is a pilot study designed to test alternative treatments that have been associated with ALS reversals. The second is the Study of ALS Reversals (St.A.R.) and is a program designed to identify and gather data on very rare cases where ALS reversals are reported to occur.

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Masitinib for the treatment of ALS

AB Science

AB Science’s Alain Moussy (Founder & CEO), Laurent Guy (CFO) and Dr. Olivier Hermine (President of the Scientific Committee) discuss the results of the recently completed Phase 2/3 clinical trial of masitinib. Masitinib is a drug currently in development that reduces inflammation in the body believed to be linked to the development of ALS. The clinical trial results show that masitinib does have a therapeutic benefit by slowing the progression of ALS. A global clinical trial for masitinib, led by Canadian investigator Dr. Angela Genge, is set to begin in late 2017 to confirm the results of this study.

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Protein misfolding in ALS

Dr. Neil Cashman
Vancouver Coastal Health ALS Clinic; University of British Columbia

Within a cell, a protein must fold into the appropriate 3D shape in order to perform its intended function. When a protein does not fold into correct shape the outcome can be harmful to cells. Prion-like proteins are especially dangerous because they can cause other normally folded proteins to adopt an abnormal shape creating a domino effect of toxic protein misfolding that spreads throughout the nervous system. Many years ago Dr. Neil Cashman hypothesized that ALS may be caused by the misfolding of prion-like proteins. In this webinar, Dr. Cashman describes data that support this hypothesis as well as new drugs that may be able to stop the domino-like protein misfolding thought to be a problem in ALS.

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Skin models for the study of ALS

*Bastien Paré
Laval University

Bastien Paré, a PhD student in Dr. François Gros-Louis’ lab at Laval University and recipient of an ALS Canada Doctoral Research Award, is studying ALS in a new way: he is investigating the relationship between the skin and ALS. Neurological conditions, like ALS, are often accompanied by changes in the elasticity or texture of the skin which may be a result of both skin and brain tissue having the same origin during fetal development. By studying the unique skin characteristics of people living with ALS, Bastien hopes to develop new biomarkers that will help researchers to better understand the disease and even lead to the development of new ALS treatments. Furthermore, he is interested in the possibility of a simple skin test that could someday allow for earlier diagnosis.

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The role of ataxin-2 in ALS

Lindsay Becker
Stanford University

Abnormalities in a protein called TDP-43 are present in approximately 97% of all ALS cases. TDP-43 is normally found in the nucleus of a cell (a central compartment where our DNA is located); however, in people living with ALS it is often found in the cytoplasm (the area outside of the nucleus) where it does not belong. This altered location of TDP-43 is thought to be harmful to cells. Previous work looking at TDP-43 in cell models revealed that another protein called ataxin-2 can actually make TDP-43 more toxic. Building on this work, Lindsay Becker, a PhD student in Dr. Aaron Gitler’s lab, studied the effects of changing the amount of ataxin-2 in mice with ALS. Lindsay found that when the amount of ataxin-2 is decreased, ALS mice live longer with increased muscle function suggesting that reducing ataxin-2 levels may represent a promising new strategy to treat ALS in humans.

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Understanding the role of the neuromuscular junction in ALS

*Elsa Tremblay
Université de Montréal

When you want to perform a voluntary movement, a signal moves from your brain through the motor neurons in your spinal cord and into the muscle where the movement is achieved. The area in your body where the muscles and the nerves communicate is called the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Elsa Tremblay, a PhD student in Dr. Richard Robitaille’s lab, and recipient of an ALS Canada Cycle of Hope Doctoral Research Award, uses animal models to investigate changes in the NMJ caused by ALS. Experimental tests reveal clear differences in the NMJs of mice with ALS that affect muscle function and fatigue. The hope is that by targeting these differences new ALS treatments can be developed. A Phase 2 clinical trial of pimozide, a medication shown to enhance communication at the NMJ in animal studies, is being funded through the ALS Canada Research Program.

View the webinar

Research projects marked with an asterisk (*) have been funded by the ALS Canada Research Program thanks to the generosity of donors and partnerships with ALS Societies across Canada.