Fight SMA Creates Directory of Diseases Benefiting From Spinal Muscular Atrophy Research

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Fight SMA, an international nonprofit organization working to accelerate a cure for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), has created a new web directory of diseases that benefit from SMA research.

When researchers unlock clues on how to treat or cure spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), they are not helping only the people suffering from the deadly genetic disease. They are also working toward a solution to many other diseases. To illustrate this fact, Fight SMA (http://www.fightsma.org), an international nonprofit organization working to accelerate a cure for SMA, has created a directory of diseases that benefit from Spinal Muscular Atrophy research.

SMA kills more children under two than any other genetic disorder. Up to one in 6,000 children are born with the neurological disease, and many are unable to stand, walk, or even breathe without assistance. Researchers say they're getting closer to a cure, and have been encouraged to find that their research can be applied to more than 20 other diseases.

"One of the main reasons that Spinal Muscular Atrophy is seen to be an important disease is very simple," said Alex MacKenzie, SMA researcher and Director of the Research Institute at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. "One of the techniques being studied for treating genetic diseases is drug based gene activation, a technique that has shown potential for finding a treatment for SMA. Because of this success, SMA assumes an even greater importance as a critical proof of principle for the literally dozens and possibly hundreds of disorders that may be treated in this fashion."

The new disease directory from Fight SMA, found at http://www.fightsma.org/index.php?disease-research-directory , lists all of the disorders that benefit from SMA research and includes links to information about each. The list includes well-known disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimers, as well as those that are lesser known, such as Goucher Disease and Niemann-Pick Disease. Fight SMA hopes to grow the list of links to outside resources through visitor submissions. Anyone who wants to add a link should sent it to Fight SMA via email. If the link is judged to be useful, it will be added to the list.

"This new directory vividly illustrates facts which the SMA community already know to be true," said Fight SMA President Martha Slay. "Spinal Muscular Atrophy is an important disease that must be cured, and in the process of researching that cure thousands and thousands of people who have never heard of Spinal Muscular Atrophy can be helped."

Among the more than 600 neurological disorders, Spinal Muscular Atrophy has been singled out by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as being closest to treatment, based on the scientists' advanced genetic understanding of the disease and a strong collaboration between families, federal agencies and patient advocacy groups.

The new disease directory is part of Fight SMA's Spinal Muscular Atrophy Guidebook, a compilation of information on SMA. Parents of newly diagnosed children, and even those who have known about Spinal Muscular Atrophy for some time, can use it to answer the questions they might have about SMA.

About Fight SMA
Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Fight SMA (also known as Andrew's Buddies) is an international nonprofit group dedicated to accelerating research for a treatment or a cure for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a neuromuscular disorder that kills more babies than any other genetic disease. For more information on spinal muscular atrophy and Fight SMA, please visit http://www.fightsma.org.

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