Friday, September 2, 2011

Patients tap the Net to enlist in fight against ALS

Ben Harris is taking on Lou Gehrig’s disease, one Internet message board at a time.
Harris and a band of fellow patients with the fatal muscle-wasting disease are actively recruiting others into a mid-stage trial of a new drug for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, by Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals Inc.
The movement shows the growing role that the Internet, particularly social media, is playing in filling key clinical trials, especially those focused on rare diseases like ALS. That has implications for cash-hungry companies as well: The faster Neuraltus can enroll patients in its Phase II study, for example, the faster it can discover whether the drug actually does what leaders of the Palo Alto company believe it will do — slow or stop ALS from gradually tightening its suffocating grip.

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