New Grant Program Advances ATTR Amyloidosis Research


For more than 30 years, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Ionis”) has worked to create RNA-targeted therapies for patients in need. Now, according to a recent press release, the company initiated a new grant program designed to offer funding around ATTR amyloidosis research. Their program was launched just in time for Amyloidosis Awareness Month, which takes place over the entire month of March and works to raise awareness, and spread education, about this disease.

The Janice Wiesman Young Investigator Grant Program

In particular, Ionis’ grant program is centered around researchers looking to develop more knowledge, better diagnostic processes, or better treatment options for patients. It is named after Dr. Janice Wiesman, M.D., who unfortunately passed in 2020. During her life, Dr. Wiesman acted as Neurologist of the Boston University School of Medicine’s Amyloidosis Center.

Through the grant program, Ionis will offer two researchers up to $50,000 per year each for up to a 2-year period. The goal of the program is to inspire younger researchers to be able to build research experience and develop a deeper understanding of ATTR amyloidosis. The application deadline is April 2, 2021. Interesting in learning more about the program or submitting an application? Click here.

ATTR Amyloidosis

There are six main types of amyloidosis, a disease in which abnormal proteins (amyloids) accumulate and form deposits in organs throughout the body. As these deposits collect, the organs become stiff and cannot function properly. The first form of amyloidosis is primary (AL), which has no known cause. Next is secondary amyloidosis (AA), often caused by other conditions. Amyloidosis can also be organ-specific, dialysis-related, or senile systemic. However, this will focus on the final form — familial (ATTR and non-ATTR), which is inherited.

In this case, TTR gene mutations cause ATTR amyloidosis. Abnormal transthyretin proteins collect throughout the body, often affecting the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. ATTR amyloidosis may be familial amyloid cardiomyopathy (FAC), wild-type, or familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP). Symptoms vary based on affected organs. For example, those whose heart is affected may experience:

  • Nausea
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations

Alternately, those whose digestive system is affected may experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Appetite loss / feeling of fullness
  • Difficulty controlling bladder

Learn more about amyloidosis here.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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