Closer to a Cure: Pete Frates and ALS

Little did anyone know when the Ice Bucket Challenge started, the viral trend would lead to a possible cure in a Cambridge, Massachusetts lab three years later.

Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player started that movement after being diagnosed at just 27.

He made a promise to his mom.

“The part that we don’t publicize a lot is that he turned to me and said in his own words, ‘mom the work that we are going to do is probably not going to be in time for me.'” Nancy Frates says “But we are going to do this so that no other family has to deal with this.”

His family sat in this room just a few weeks after his diagnosis, at the ALS Therapy Development Institute, learning all they could about the deadly disease.

Nancy continues, “I always say I didn’t choose my passion, my passion choose me.”

The lab was started by a family of engineers from Newton when their loved one was diagnosed almost 20 years ago.

Now it’s the largest, independent, non-profit ALS research center in the world.

“We have tested more potential treatments than anywhere else on the planet” says Carol Hamilton of the ALS TDI Lab

Thanks to the ice bucket challenge, a little over 3 million dollars went to aid research on a drug that doesn’t exist anywhere else because it was developed right here at this lab.

It’s called at-1501. The drug has shown big promise.

Carol Hamilton tells 7News, “In animal models it has extended survival, it has helped with weight gain and it has slowed progression.”

In one of these freezers could be the beginning of the end of ALS.

Hamilton says, “It really could be. We hope so”

The lab is looking to raise about five million dollars to hopefully launch a clinical trial by next year.

Many of the patients’ friends and family fund the lab. Their pictures line the walls.

“And of course there is Pete,” says his mother as she looks at his picture.

With his promise, and the labs’ determination, a cure could soon become a reality.

“We are going to do this. I am not kidding, we are going to do this.” says Hamilton.

Nancy Frates said, “I think that’s how we all sleep at night because we know that no other family eventually is going to have to deal with this disease because of the efforts and the vision of Pete Frates.”

The lab holds a 5k walk this weekend.