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Local wife honors husband's memory with grant to UC researcher

Local wife honors husbands memory with grant to UC researcher (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A local woman was making a big difference for families living with ALS.

She helped launch the first local study to fight the disease. It could make a big difference in the future for other families.

Cindy Starr's husband, Bill, was first diagnosed with ALS. She discovered then that there were no active known treatments for the disease and no local studies were being conducted to find one. Or at least there weren't until she stepped up, following a little thing people may remember called the Ice Bucket Challenge.

That challenge was getting a warm reception from Dr. John MaClennan.


He said, "ALS is a motor neuron disease, and during the course of ALS people lose the contact of their motor neurons with muscle, and that causes them paralysis."

Cindy Starr knows that all too well. She's behind the Starr Family Spark Grant which started while her husband Bill was living with ALS, "You know, science moves very slowly. Bill's been gone 18 months now actually and this is a gift that I am hoping will make a difference for someone coming down the road."

Dr. MaClennan was just awarded the first Spark Grant. When Cindy first heard that from her friend and co-worker, Deborah Livingston, with The Mayfield Foundation, Deborah said, "Oh we just jumped up and gave each other hugs , it was a really happy, happy morning."

Dr. MaClennan will now use that grant in laboratory experiments to target a protein that appears to increase in ALS.

When it does he hopes to find out if he can stop the response in a lab. While it wasn't there in time for Bill, Cindy said it was her bucket of blessings to all the other families touched by the disease.

Within a year the researcher expects to know if people can take the study from the lab to human trials.

How does this differ from other ALS trials? There are therapies that get used in ALS right now but this could be the first one specifically targeted to halt some of what's happening, until a cure can be found.

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