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.

Targeting a specific toxic protein as a therapy for ALS

A novel treatment method currently being tested in the laboratory

November webinar graphic

 

What if we could deliver treatments through the bloodstream that would assist the motor neuron in getting rid of a toxic protein known to cause ALS? During this webinar, Dr. Jiming Kong from the University of Manitoba will be presenting his work using mice to test this innovative research in the lab.

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Archived Webinars

How does the skin of people living with ALS differ from the skin of others?

Francois Gros-Louis webinar graphic

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. François Gros-Louis provided an overview on the work his research lab is doing with ALS at l’Université Laval, using skin as an alternative to brain tissue to identify molecular biomarkers in ALS. Please note that this webinar was presented in French only.

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Can exposure to toxins and other environmental factors play a role in the development of sporadic ALS?

Jessica Morrice webinar graphic

 

 

 

 

 

Zebrafish can be a useful model to study motor neuron degeneration, and are particularly useful for understanding the role that different cells, such as glial cells, may play in the onset and progression of ALS.

Jessica Morrice, a PhD student in Dr. Christopher A. Shaw’s lab at the University of British Columbia, uses zebrafish to understand how toxins can cause motor neuron degeneration – an understanding that could eventually lead to slowing down or stopping ALS.

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Approaches for better modeling of human disease

Webinar artwork with information and headshot of Vincent Picher-Martel

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to testing new therapeutic approaches for ALS, researchers have a wide variety of animal models to choose from. However, many drugs that have been shown to be effective in animal models have failed in human clinical trials, leading to the question: which animal models are the most effective for modeling human disease?

In this webinar, Dr. Vincent Picher-Martel from Laval University presents some advantages and disadvantages of the animal models currently available for the study of ALS. He also discusses his work using mice models to simulate mutations in Ubiquilin-2 and TDP-43, two genes known to contribute to the development of ALS.

This webinar was presented in both French and English. Click on the Français tab for the link to the French webinar.

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How touchscreen technology may help to identify cognitive impairments in ALS mice and pave the way for future treatments

Link to archived webinar: Thinking inside the box

 

 

 

This webinar was presented by Dr. Flavio Beraldo, Adjunct Professor and research associate at Western University.

Learn about how touchscreen technology could improve testing for cognitive impairment in ALS, and how these tests could help find treatments in the future. Please note that this webinar was conducted in English only.

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A webinar by Neurologists for Canadians affected by ALS

Link to archived webinar: The ALS Treatment Pipeline

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, held a webinar on November 30, 2017 offering perspectives on ALS treatments including edaravone as well as others in development. The webinar was 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 was moderated by Dr. David Taylor, Vice President Research for ALS Canada, which sponsored the webinar. He provided a brief overview of edaravone, masitinib, NurOwn, tirasemtiv and other experimental treatments currently in clinical trials.

The webinar was conducted primarily in English, but efforts were made to provide some information in French.

Note that the archived version of the webinar has been modified from the live version that originally aired, in which the possibility of placebo effect was discussed using an example of an individual who had reported positive results with treatment. This statement was based on assumption and has since been retracted and removed. An explanation of placebo effect remains because it is important for webinar listeners to be aware of the possibility of placebo responses when pursuing any type of treatment.

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Virtual Research Forum: On-Demand

For a disease like ALS that has no cure and few effective treatments, research is a tremendous source of hope. Select presentations from the Virtual Research Forum are available for on-demand viewing below. Please note that the presentations are conducted in English – we will be identifying future opportunities to offer research updates in both official languages.

Project MinE: the new genetics of MND

Dr. Jan Veldink headshot and titleDr. Jan Veldink
UMC Utrecht

A multi-national initiative, establishing a global resource of human data that will enable scientists worldwide to understand the genetic signature that leads someone to develop ALS.

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The biomarker challenge in ALS

Martin Turner headshot and titleProfessor Martin Turner
University of Oxford

A five year research project, searching for biomarkers of ALS and leaving a legacy resource to improve diagnosis and understanding of ALS for the future.

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Breaking barriers, connecting brains to machines

Nick Ramsey headshot and titleNick Ramsey
University Medical Center Utrecht

Using Brain Computer Interface Technology to turn thoughts into computer commands.

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ALS steering wheel

Kendra Berry headshot and titleKendra Berry
Montreal Neurological Institute

A multidisciplinary initiative with a primary goal of promoting and prolonging safe driving for patients with ALS.

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The epigenetic study of age acceleration in C9orf72 carriers

Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva
University of Toronto

Using identical twins to understand environmental factors in ALS onset and progression.

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Zebrafish models of ALS

Gary Armstrong headshot Gary Armstrong
Montreal Neurological Institute

Using zebrafish and cutting edge technology to create a better way of studying ALS in animals.

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Modeling ALS using patient-derived motor neurons and glia

Dr. Stefano Stifani and Mathilde Chaineau
McGill University

Using stem cells from adult blood to recreate individuals’ ALS in a dish.

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An Unlikely Suspect in ALS: Inhibitory Homeostasis

Photo of Sahara KhademullahSahara Khademullah
Université Laval

A new way of looking at experimental therapy for ALS.

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Biomarkers for C9ORF72-associated ALS

Link to Dr. Tania Gendron's Virtual Research Forum presentationDr. 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.

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Cannabinoid use in ALS

Link to Dr. Mark Ware's Virtual Research Forum presentation*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

Link to Dr. Michael Strong's Virtual Research Forum presentation*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

Link to Dr. Lawrence Korngut's Virtual Research Forum presentation*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

Link to Dr. Richard Bedlack's Virtual Research Forum presentation 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

Link to AB Science's Virtual Research Forum presentationAB 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

Link to Dr. Neil Cashman's Virtual Research Forum presentationDr. 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

Link to Bastien Paré's Virtual Research Forum presentation*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

Link to Lindsay Becker's Virtual Research Forum presentationLindsay 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

Link to Elsa Tremblay's Virtual Research Forum presentation*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.

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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.