Last summer’s viral phenomenon – the ALS ice-bucket challenge – magnified public awareness on what is medically known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or motor neuron disease. People around the world threw a bucket of ice water over their heads, called a few friends to do the same and offered a charitable donation – all in a bid to raise awareness and funds for ALS.
The University of Malta Research Trust (RIDT) is now collaborating with ALS Malta Foundation, an initiative started by Bjorn Formosa, a 28-year old entrepreneur who was recently diagnosed with ALS, to raise funds for research and awareness in motor neuron diseases.
Dr. Ruben Cauchi from the University’s Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, is already conducting research on the subject and has been appointed board member of ALS MALTA Foundation.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease (MND), a term more commonly used in Malta, is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons. It causes stiff muscles, muscle twitching, and gradually worsening weakness due to muscle wasting. This results in difficulty speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing.
“The objective of the University of Malta MND research programme is to understand the mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration,” said Dr. Cauchi. “It is only by doing so that we will be in a better position to identify therapeutic targets for one of the most catastrophic of human diseases”.
“Since there is no cure for ALS disease, we can only fight this disease by focusing on research,” said Mr Formosa. “Apart from offering support to patients and lobbying for improved services, ALS Malta Foundation is asking the public to send their donations to www.alsmalta.org/donate. We welcome and appreciate any donation. I am hoping that there will be a breakthrough in the research so that other sufferers who come after me will find both better prognosis and treatment.”
“As ALS is a rare disease, the research team comes across many particular challenges and for this reason relies heavily on funding resources. RIDT is asking for the generosity of the public to support the ALS research in Malta. We urge the public to support this research programme with the hope of developing better treatment for this cruel disease,” said RIDT CEO Wilfred Kenely.
Those who wish to donate money can log on to RIDT website: ridt.org.mt/als or through the ALS Malta Foundation website: http://alsmalta.org/donate. Alternatively donations can be made in cash, by cheque to ALS Malta Foundation, 569 St Joseph High Road, Hamrun, by bank transfer or PayPal.