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Columbia researchers receive $3 million to combat genetic killer of infants & toddlers

New York, NY March 03, 2005 Researchers at Columbia University have received more than $3 million in funding from the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation to conduct research on spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a neuromuscular disease that is the leading genetic killer of infants and toddlers. The funding will enable the institution to significantly expand its already substantial SMA research.

With an estimated 55,000 people afflicted with the disease in the United States, Europe and Japan, spinal muscular atrophy, once among the least understood diseases in medicine, has recently emerged as one of the genetic conditions closest to a treatment. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has selected SMA to serve as the prototype for a translational research project that is expected to yield drug candidates for investigational new drug application filings by 2007. The SMA Foundation has been instrumental in raising awareness and supporting ground breaking SMA projects in biotechnology, government and academia which will advance translational research overall, including the efforts underway at NIH.

The SMA Foundation's donation to Columbia University research is part of a broader strategy to integrate basic, translational and clinical research efforts at leading institutions into coordinated efforts aimed at facilitating drug discovery.

Loren Eng, Co-Founder and President of the SMA Foundation, said, "Columbia University was an obvious place to launch this effort given the institution's leadership position in neuroscience and neurology. In the past four years Columbia neuroscientists have won two Nobel prizes. There is also a strong commitment to neuroscience from Columbia's administration and research community. One third of all Columbia researchers study the brain and nervous system and they generate more research funding than any other group of neuroscientists in the country. Given the strengths of the institut
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Contact: Craig LeMoult
cel2113@columbia.edu
212-305-0820
Columbia University Medical Center
4-Mar-2005


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