ALS TDI

PatientsLikeMe Co-Founders Jamie and Ben Heywood Win International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations 2016 Humanitarian Award

DUBLIN—December 8, 2016—A decade after their work sparked a revolution in patient empowerment and patient-centered medicine, PatientsLikeMe co-founders Jamie and Ben Heywood were awarded the 2016 Humanitarian Award by the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations. Inaugurated in 2000, the Humanitarian Award recognizes and encourages contributions to the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Motor Neurone Disease (ALS/MND) and is awarded to those whose work is of international significance for people affected by ALS/MND. In presenting the award, the Alliance’s citation acknowledged the founding of both the patient network PatientsLikeMe and the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), the world’s first non-profit biotechnology company. “When their brother was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29, James Allen Heywood and Benjamin Heywood were devastated at his prognosis and at the lack of effective treatments for the disease. They saw firsthand how isolating ALS/MND can be. They took up these challenges as a family and, with family and friends, founded two organizations: ALS TDI, tasked with finding effective treatments for the condition, and PatientsLikeMe, to tackle social isolation and to collect data on what other drugs, interventions or supplements might make a difference to those with ALS/MND.” Jamie Heywood thanked the association on behalf of his family and PatientsLikeMe …

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What can you do to challenge ALS in May?

It’s been 23 years since the U.S. Congress first recognized May as ALS Awareness Month in 1992, and while progress towards new treatments has been slower than we’ve all hoped,  a lot has still happened since then. In 1995, Riluzole, the first treatment to alter the course of ALS, was approved by the FDA. In the 2000s, familial ALS was linked to 10 percent of cases, and new genes and mutations continue to be discovered every year.1 In 2006, the first-of-its-kind PatientsLikeMe ALS community, was launched, and now numbers over 7,400 strong. And just two short years later, those community members helped prove that lithium carbonate, a drug thought to affect ALS progression, was actually ineffective. This May, it’s time to spread awareness for the history of ALS and share everything we’ve learned to encourage new research that can lead to better treatments. In the United States, 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year,2 which means that well over 100,000 have started their ALS journey since 1992. And in 1998, Stephen Heywood, the brother of our co-founders Ben and Jamie, was also diagnosed. They immediately went to work trying to find new ways to slow Stephen’s progression, and after …

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Speaking up for hope during ALS Awareness Month

May is just a few days away, and we wanted to get a jump-start on spreading the word for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Awareness Month. As many out there might know, PatientsLikeMe was founded on the life experiences of brothers Stephen, Ben and Jamie Heywood. In 1998, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS and his brothers went to work trying to find new ways to slow his progression. But their trial and error approach just wasn’t working, and so they set out to find a better way. And that’s how in 2004, PatientsLikeMe was created. If you don’t know the story, you can watch the feature documentary of the family’s journey, called “So Much So Fast.” ALS is considered a rare condition, but it’s actually more common than you might think – in the United States, 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year, and as many as 30,000 are living with the condition at any given time.1 ALS affects people of every race, gender and background, and there is no current cure. Even before PatientsLikeMe, Jamie started the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), an independent research center that focuses on developing effective therapeutics that slow and stop ALS. Now, …

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Raising awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

May is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Awareness Month. As many out there know, PatientsLikeMe was inspired by the life experiences of Stephen Heywood, who was diagnosed with this serious neurological disease back in 1998. Stephen’s brothers (Ben and Jamie) made many attempts to slow the progression of his condition, but their trial-and-error approach just wasn’t working. They knew there had to be a better way, and in 2004 PatientsLikeMe was created. Every year, about 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS in the U.S. It can affect any race or ethnicity and there is currently no treatment or cure that will reverse or even stop its progression.[1] By getting involved, you can help change that. The ALS Association has put together a terrific calendar of events called “31 Ways in 31 Days.” For each day in the month they’ve created a simple way to get involved and help raise awareness.   You can also find upcoming awareness events on the ALS Therapy Development Institute calendar. There will be picnics, charity golf tournaments and “The Cure is Coming” 5k and awareness walk. And don’t forget, we’d love to sponsor your run/walk team through our PatientsLikeMeInMotion program. Your whole team will get free …

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What Is Health?

It seems like a basic question, but at PatientsLikeMe, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means.  Check out Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood’s thought-provoking presentation below at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue’s “Future of Human Longevity” conference. Can you really understand concepts such as health, mobility or well-being without measuring or comparing them?  See why Jamie argues that you can’t – and also why one’s “health span” may be more important than one’s “lifespan.”  Click the image below to tune in. *After clicking the image above, select the “08:45” link to your left to start the presentation.

PatientsLikeMe at the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair for ALS TDI

On Friday, November 2nd, several PatientsLikeMe team members donned their finest to attend the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair, a charity gala benefiting the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI).  Founded by PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood in 1999, ALS TDI is the world’s most advanced research laboratory dedicated to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This gala fundraiser was held in conjunction with ALS TDI’s 8th Annual Leadership Summit, which included in-depth scientific presentations by top ALS researchers, a discussion panel with industry leaders and an awards ceremony honoring individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to ALS research and advocacy.  (View the summit webcast here.)  PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of this annual gathering of the most influential minds in the ALS community.  In particular, we were honored to witness the posthumous awarding of the Stephen Heywood Patients Today Award – given annually to an individual who exemplifies what it means to be an educator, role model and advocate – to beloved PatientsLikeMe member Persevering (Rob Tison). Held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston the next night, A White Coat Affair was an opportunity for summit attendees to unwind and socialize via cocktails, a dinner program, live music and …

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Leaving a Legacy of Data at PatientsLikeMe

Recently, our ALS community mourned the loss of Persevering, a highly proactive three-star member who was known for his unfailing efforts to support fellow patients, record and share data, report website problems and recruit ALS clinical trial participants.  Offline, he was also a tireless advocate for ALS awareness and research, attending conferences and lobbying on Capitol Hill.  Persevering passed away on September 10, 2012, at the age of 42, and is deeply missed by both our members and our staff. While we are unable to recognize every member who passes away on our blog, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how our community responds to loss as well share what happens to a deceased patient’s profile data.  When our community managers are notified of a member’s death – typically by a family member, caregiver or another member who was close to the person – they add the date of death to the member’s profile. This automatically updates their icon nugget with a black band to show that the member has passed away. (See image below.) Also, our members often create a forum thread about the member, to which the tag “In Memory” is added by other members or …

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Meet ALS “Treat Us Now” Steering Committee Member Tom Murphy

You may remember our interview with ALS advocate Debra Quinn from last fall.  Today, we’d like to introduce you to another ALS patient activist in our midst:  Tom Murphy, a PatientsLikeMe member since January 2011.  As part of the ALS Treat Us Now nonprofit group, Tom and several other ALS patients around the country have launched a petition on Change.org that’s gaining steam.  Their goal?  20,000 signatures. Addressed to “corporate citizens, FDA executives and neurologists,” the petition asks that “compassionate use” drugs be made available to ALS patients now.  What this means is that Tom and the Treat Us Now group want promising Phase II drugs showing safety and efficacy to be made available to ALS patients prior to FDA approval.  The reason is simple. ALS patients, who face an average life expectancy of two to five years following diagnosis, don’t have time to wait. Check out our interview with Tom to learn how he became part of ALS Treat Us Now and what two experimental drugs his group is focused on in particular. 1.  How did you get involved in the “Treat Us Now” movement? The ALS community seems to be a very close-knit group of people who readily …

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“A White Coat Affair”: A Wonderful Evening Celebrating ALS TDI

Last night, the PatientsLikeMe team came together for a great cause: the “White Coat Affair” gala benefit in support of the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI).  Founded by PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood in 1999, ALS TDI is the world’s most advanced research laboratory dedicated to ALS. Held the night before the institute’s 7th Annual Leadership Summit, the gala event included the presentation of the first-ever “ALS TDI Lou Gehrig Award” to US Congressman Michael Capuano as well as special recognition for ALS TDI Chairman of the Board Augie Nieto, who has raised more than $30 million for the institute since 2007. Congratulations to ALS TDI on 12 years of cutting-edge research and leadership.

Photo of the Day: A Glimpse of PatientsLikeMeInMotion

As we mentioned in our blog post last week, our PatientsLikeMeInMotion program is off to a running start this year with more than 30 sponsored teams thus far. What does one of these run/walk/bike teams look like? Below is Team Sylvan, a 40-person team led by ALS patient Panda155. Decked out in bright blue PatientsLikeMe t-shirts, Team Sylvan took to the streets for the ALSTDI Cure Is Coming Walk, held on May 7, 2011, in Lexington, Massachusetts. This is the third year that they’ve been sponsored by PatientsLikeMeInMotion, which makes them one of our veteran superstar teams. Congrats to Team Sylvan and all of our sponsored teams for your efforts to raise funds and awareness for your condition. We’re honored to support you every step of the way.  For more inspiring PatientsLikeMeInMotion team photos, check out our new Flickr slideshow. Organizing a team for this fall?  Sign up for PatientsLikeMeInMotion today.

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