The award winner for the best-protected invention for a patent related to ALS is Ana Martínez.
Ana Martínez is a researcher in the Translational Medical and Biological Chemistry group at the Margarita Salas Center for Biological Research (CIB Margarita Salas) of the CSIC, in Madrid. In this case, the patented invention could not be anything other than a compound with the potential to protect those neurons that stop working.
This mortal neuronal disease, called ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, affects the neurons that send messages to the muscles, so that over time it causes weakening and a slow and progressive loss of mobility in the arms, legs, and the entire body, until death.
Given this dramatic reality, any small hope is welcome, and that is how it was, therefore, Ana Martínez, as a researcher, after a long period of analysis, testing and studies, discovered a small molecule that has a very adequate pharmacological action to become a drug and treat ALS, frontotemporal dementia, or even Alzheimer’s, well this small molecule recovers the TDP-43 protein, preventing the death of motor neurons, the type of cells of the nervous system that are found in the brain and the spinal cord and that are in charge of producing the stimuli that contract the muscles of the whole organism, that is why this small molecule is that important to be approved to work as a medical treatment.
However, there is a critical period for the success of all new drugs and Ana Martínez’s project has reached exactly that point. She has to face strict regulations, prove that the molecules that she proposes in her laboratory are adequate from the toxicological, chemical, and pharmacological point of view to start experimentation with patients, and request the start of phase 1 of clinical trials. This means they may still be, approximately, 12 to 15 years away from turning their compound into a real drug.
However, she affirms that she is focused on helping, as a first step, those who have ALS. Ana Martínez is not new to these issues. From a medicinal chemistry perspective, she has been working on drug design for more than 30 years. The Medical Chemistry and Translational Biology group, which she leads. She is the author of more than 250 scientific articles, she accumulates another thirty patents in her career and, in addition, she advises companies in the pharmaceutical sector and founded her own, the ‘spin-off’ Ankar Pharma.
This brilliant investigator is working along with a great team to evolve medicine; but actually, it goes further than that, she is working for people, and she is doing all that effort to give a better lifestyle to all of those who need it, well, is not the first time she goes through an arduous investigation. It is important to recognize the relevant role that researchers play and what better now, Ana Martinez, a brilliant woman in the field of science.