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Big News from Augie's Quest

Because of Augie Nieto, founder of Life Fitness, many people in the fitness industry follow what is happening in the world of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research more closely than perhaps they would otherwise. Nieto has ALS, and he established Augie's Quest several years ago to raise money for ALS research.

We recently received good news on the ALS front. ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI) officially announced this week that it reached an agreement with Biogen Idec and UCB Pharma to jointly investigate a potential treatment for ALS. The two pharmaceutical companies are looking into an anti-CD40L antibody as a potential therapy for ALS.

“There is great hope that this project will be a successful one and lead to additional therapeutic options for people living with ALS today,” Steve Perrin, CEO and chief scientific officer of ALS TDI, said in a release from the company.

This breakthrough is partially due to the $23.1 million that Augie's Quest has given to ALS TDI in the past six years. Research on this treatment has shown that it slows paralysis and improves survival time. Additional testing is required, but if those tests go well, Biogen Idec and UCB can then license global rights to develop and commercialize this treatment.

“Steve Perrin and his team have been working diligently to make this historical partnership happen for months,” Nieto wrote in a release from ALS. “Lynne and I consider this the best Christmas present we could ever ask for. This announcement means we are accomplishing what we set out to do at the beginning of our journey. We want to thank everyone at MDA, ALS TDI and most importantly our friends who have supported us and helped make this possible.”

Much of that support has come from fitness facilities who each year donate money at the Bash for Augie's Quest held at the IHRSA trade show. This year's Bash is being held from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on March 16 at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles. The IHRSA trade show is March 14-17, 2012, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

If you have never been to this event, I encourage you to attend. It is an emotional event highlighted by an appearance each year by Lynne and Augie Nieto. I've attended each event since it started, and I have yet to come away without feeling blessed to be in an industry where so many competitors gather in one room to support one cause.

Many of the efforts to raise this money occur prior to the Bash. Clubs for the Quest, founded by The Atlantic Club CEO Pat Laus, is urging clubs to host a one-hour charity event to raise money for ALS research. This year, Clubs for the Quest has partnered with Zumba Fitness. The two groups are encouraging clubs to sign up to host a Zumbathon. Sign-up information and marketing materials are available on the Clubs for the Quest website.

“The support that ALS TDI has received from all those involved in Augie's Quest have played a key role in moving our research forward,” Perrin said. “Without your help, we wouldn't have been able to do the research necessary as quickly as we did in order to enter into this exciting research agreement with two global organizations. Thank you all for your trust and support."

If you would like to learn more about this treatment, you can sit in on this webinar at 1 p.m. EST on Jan. 5, 2012.

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