PathMaker Neurosystems Inc., a neuromodulation company developing non-invasive treatments for serious neurological disorders based on multi-site neuromodulation, and of which CSI Chair/Professor of Neuroscience and Motor Control Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed is a Scientific Founder, has recently received a $600K grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to research treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This funding comes through MDA’s Venture Philanthropy program, which invests in companies that are working toward new and extremely effective treatments for neuromuscular diseases. According to PathMaker, “this funding will support the launch of an ALS early feasibility study (EFS) using PathMaker’s breakthrough technology for motor neuron hyperexcitability suppression.”

“We are truly grateful and honored to have received the support of MDA through the MVP program as we prepare for the clinical application of our non-invasive approach in ALS,” said Nader Yaghoubi, MD, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PathMaker. “There is a severe unmet need for novel treatment options for this rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease. Our technology works by suppressing overactive spinal motor neurons found in people with ALS and could represent a new therapeutic treatment modality for this devastating disease. We are very pleased to have the support of MDA and its network of clinicians and patient advocacy groups.”

Dr. Ahmed explained his role in the company and in this research. “PathMaker was founded based on my pioneering research in applying multi-site neuromodulation to restore neural pathways and circuits damaged by neurological disease. PathMaker has made tremendous progress since I published my original animal studies, and the ALS clinical trial that we are starting with MDA’s support will be the company’s fourth clinical trial. Over the past several years, my laboratory has completed a robust set of studies in the gold-standard ALS pre-clinical models that have established the foundations for taking our neuronal hyperexcitability suppression technology into the clinic for ALS.”

“PathMaker’s non-invasive approach to the treatment of ALS stands out for its innovation and already shows great potential in pre-clinical studies,” according to Sharon Hesterlee, PhD, Chief Research Officer at MDA, “We are excited to be part of the development of this unique technology and look forward to its application in clinical trials.”

This is not the first major recognition that PathMaker has received for its ALS advances, which are based on the research studies of Dr. Ahmed. In the past year, PathMaker has received the $250,000 CERF Prize in ALS for Medical Electronics from the UK-based Cullen Education and Research Fund (CERF) in recognition of the company’s work toward the advancement of its non-invasive technology for ALS. In addition, in 2021 PathMaker, together with CUNY, received a $371,000 National Institutes of Health grant to apply their approach to ALS.

For his part, Dr. Ahmed’s research focuses on bioelectronic medicine and the novel application of therapeutic strategies based on electrical and magnetic stimulation. He studies the modulatory effects of different forms of electrical and magnetic stimulation applied to the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral organs. He seeks to characterize the short and long-term physiological and therapeutic effects of electrical or magnetic applications and delineate their mechanisms of action by using the progressive complexity of living models (cell to human). Dr. Ahmed collaborates with numerous scientists across many different disciplines to achieve this goal. The latest focus of the Ahmed lab is to study the effect of multi-site direct current stimulation on spasticity and motor recovery following spinal cord injury and brain injuries (stroke, trauma), as well as to further apply the approach to ALS models.

By Terry Mares