What is Augie’s Quest?
Under the banner MDA’s Augie’s Quest, Nieto and his wife, Lynne, are supporting MDA’s aggressive fundraising and research effort aimed at finding more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
How are MDA and Augie’s Quest connected?
MDA’s ALS Division is the world leader among voluntary health agencies in fighting ALS, offering the most comprehensive range of services, including a national network of clinics. Since its inception, MDA has dedicated $324 million to ALS research, services and education programs. MDA’s Augie’s Quest is solely dedicated to funding ALS research. Augie’s Quest has raised almost $40 million in eight years, and 100 percent of all donations to MDA’s Augie’s Quest go directly to research.
Who is Augie Nieto?
A pioneer in the fitness industry, Augie Nieto received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005 and began the fight of his life. Augie was co-founder and president of Life Fitness, and is now chairman of Octane Fitness. As co-chairs of MDA’s ALS Division for the eighth year, Augie and Lynne are raising awareness of the disease through public appearances, speaking engagements, media interviews and public service announcements. For every year since 2006, Augie and Lynne have shared their story on the national broadcast of the MDA Show of Strength Telethon on Labor Day weekend. Augie also serves MDA as a national vice president.
What has Augie’s Quest accomplished in eight years?
Augie’s Quest has funded several successful ALS research projects that have accelerated the development of therapeutics in this disease.
Foremost among these is the partnership between MDA’s Augie’s Quest and the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). Thanks to the funds donated by public support of Augie’s Quest (more than $31 million to date, matched by ALS TDI for a total investment of more than $50 million), scientists at ALS TDI have screened more than 200 molecules to see if they affect the progression of ALS.
ALS TDI screens at least 25 therapeutics each year, and it currently has more than 30 ongoing projects targeting highly relevant and newly identified aspects of this disease.
In 2013, ALS TDI launched a phase 2 trial of Novartis’ multiple sclerosis drug, Gilenya, in ALS patients at four different hospitals in the United States. ALS TDI also has reached an agreement with two major global pharmaceutical companies — Biogen Idec and UCB — to jointly investigate a potential treatment for ALS. ALS TDI’s CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Steve Perrin is working to bring this and other potential treatments for ALS to clinical trials as quickly as possible, with an additional 15 compounds having completed preclinical trials and efforts underway for determining which have the best chance of success in the clinic.
In order to address some of the issues with developing therapies for ALS, ALS TDI also has entered into collaborations with novel technologies. ALS TDI has an active collaboration with to-BBB, a Dutch company which has an exciting new drug delivery tool that may help get drugs into the central nervous system. ALS TDI also has completed the first two stages of a collaboration with the Gladstone Institute using Nobel Prize-winning technology.