Lisa travelled 1,300 km to spread awareness of ALS
After her uncle was diagnosed with ALS in 2015, Lisa Kriga commenced on a nine month campaign to raise awareness of ALS by running and biking 1,300 kilometres. The journey took place between the five Swedish cities and towns where ALS research is conducted and was concluded on Tuesday when Lisa delivered a cheque to the Swedish Hjärnfonden via Umeå-based ALS researcher Peter Andersen.
Since 28 May, Lisa Kriga has run and biked between the five Swedish cities and towns where ALS research is conducted: Gothenburg, Örebro, Stockholm, Uppsala and Umeå. Sponsors, both private individuals and companies have helped her along the way by offering an accompanying car, equipment and accommodation.
“In January 2015, one of my uncles was diagnosed with ALS. I felt that I had to do something, not just for him, his wife and their two children, but also for everyone else who has been and will be affected by ALS in the future,” says 34-year-old Lisa Kriga, who lives in the mid-Swedish town of Gävle but originates from the north, from Luleå.
Lisa began her campaign "Fight against ALS" in September 2015 with the aim to collect money in the aid of research, but also to increase awareness of ALS, an incurable neurological disease that affects over 400,000 of the world’s population, of which 230 are Swedes. ALS (or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a group of diseases that affects the motor neurones in the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. The damages to the nerves lead to muscle weakness and paralysis, which starts locally in the motor neurone system but then spreads throughout the nervous system.
“Hjärnfonden foundation is incredibly grateful for Lisa’s efforts, in supporting research and in increasing awareness of the ALS disease,” says Peter Andersen, Professor in Neurology at Umeå University and member of the Hjärnfonden scientific board. “Lisa’s immense commitment and physical achievement is impressive and I can see huge parallels between her endeavour and the ALS research we are conducting in Umeå, which also deals to large extents with perseverance.”
ALS research at Umeå University for over two decades
Since 1993, genetic research is being carried out to identify hereditary traits that increase the risk of developing ALS and to understand how these traits affect the course of the disease. Umeå-based researchers have identified specific genes that can be related to certain cases of ALS, but for the majority of cases, the cause of disease is still unknown. Another research area that was first discovered by the Umeå-researchers is how a misfolded protein (SOD1) can be found inside nerve cells of ALS patients in a post-mortem, as well as misfolded SOD1 proteins, can spread between cells in the nervous system. The latest discovery of lumps in the misfolded protein SOD1 shows that these affect the course of disease.
“Injections of miniscule amounts of misfolded SOD in the spinal cord of healthy mice models triggers an ALS disease that is then spread through the nervous system with a course of disease identical to the one we see in our patients,” says Peter Andersen.
The results, that according to Peter Andersen, supports the theory that ALS is a prion-like disease caused by misfolded SOD1 prions, was recently paid attention to in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
“Since the first Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, a lot has happened in ALS research, not least in Umeå, but there is still lots left to discover,” says Lisa Kriga.
About the Hjärnfonden Foundation
The aim of the Swedish Hjärnfonden Foundation is to collect money and to fund vital research on the brain, its capacity and all the diseases, injuries and disabilities linked to the brain that cause great suffering for individuals and their families. The objective is to find new treatments and cures. Hjärnfonden is also actively working towards increasing awareness of the brain and its diseases, damages and disabilities to the general public.
Read more about the fundraiser campaign “Fight against ALS” on the Hjärnfonden web page (in English at the bottom):