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ALS is a devastating neurological disease causing progressive and relentless paralysis over months to

years until death from respiratory failure. ALS kills 1 in every 300 people and is the commonest reason

to seek assisted suicide. The aim of the STRENGTH consortium is to identify factors that affect

susceptibility to ALS or modify the pattern of ALS onset or survival duration as targets for the

development of new therapies. Until now, the usual approach has been to consider ALS as a

homogeneous disease and identify genetic or environmental risk factors. STRENGTH uses a novel

approach, first using clinical, laboratory and sophisticated clustering methods to identify homogeneous

patient subgroups to increase power, and second using multiple layers of data from environmental

questionnaires and genetics from the same individuals enrolled in pan-European population registers

covering a population of about 120 million people, to identify for the first time how risk and protective

factors work in concert to cause and modify ALS. In addition, STRENGTH partners include

epigeneticists, able to develop this field in ALS and to further reveal the interface between genetic and

environmental interaction. STRENGTH capitalises on existing infrastructure from the EU funded

EuroMOTOR project which enables collection of large data sets, and the JPND funded SOPHIA

project which ensures the data collection follows standard operating procedures throughout Europe,

and will enable the discovery of new pharmaceutical targets for ALS.

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