According to a recent Cedars-Sinai news release, the ALS Program at Cedars-Sinai has been named an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. The release notes that the program is the first in Southern California to achieve this status, which is intended to recognize the quality of its treatment and research programs for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In order to earn the certification, the release says, Cedars-Sinai worked to meet rigorous standards set in place by The ALS Association for research initiatives and a comprehensive and collaborative approach to patient care and services.

Nicole Yarab, director of Certified Center Programs, The ALS Association, explains that Cedars-Sinai’s commitment to excellence in ALS care shows through its “thorough and thoughtful approach to the multidisciplinary clinic and the integration of community-based care provided by the Golden West Chapter. We applaud their efforts to discover and deliver effective treatments and a cure for ALS.”

The release states that 10 years back, Cedars-Sinai partnered with The ALS Association Golden West Chapter to begin building a multidisciplinary clinic program. Cedars-Sinai reportedly invested heavily into an advanced patient care clinic and research effort in 2012, when Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, was named director of the ALS program. Baloh partnered with Patrick Lyden, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology, and Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, who pinpointed ALS as a key clinical and research priority.

The release reports that Baloh’s research group was one of the first to discover that mutations in a gene, TDP-43, can cause inherited forms of ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Baloh also led studies that in 2009 produced a mouse model of ALS based on the TDP-43 mutation that is reportedly used by researchers worldwide to study the disease.

During current research, Baloh’s team turned skin cells of ALS patients into motor neurons that retained the genetic defects of the disease. In a lab dish, the team identified the genetic defect that caused the disorder and inserted molecules comprised of small stretches of genetic material to block the damaging effects of the defective gene. Baloh was also a recipient The ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter Commitment to a Cure Award in 2012.

The release notes that additionally in 2012, the ALS Clinic became the first West Coast site providing an implanted breathing-assist device for ALS patients with chronic hypoventilation under a protocol newly approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cedars-Sinai doctors and researchers are currently participating in a clinical trial evaluating the device.

Baloh characterizes the ALS Clinic  as a core component of the overall program, and adds, “We are thrilled that The ALS Association has recognized our efforts by certifying our clinic as a Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. We look forward to continuing to work with The ALS Association and the Golden West Chapter to maintain the highest level of care and research opportunities for our patients.”

[Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center]