Our take: Tomassoni, Minnesota takes the lead on ALS – Duluth News Tribune

In honor of a “living legend,” Minnesota made a legendary and bold bid last week to be a leader in finding treatments and finding a cure for ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. .

The deadly disease is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the Hall of Fame baseball player who died of it in 1941. Little or no progress has been made since then, however, in the search for a cure, as said Senator David Tomassoni of Iron Range. pointed out last month when introducing a bill to provide $20 million in state grants for ALS research and $5 million to support caregivers.

Tomassoni had been diagnosed with ALS last year.

Last week, in a poignant and defining moment, its legislation was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz.

“It has been an emotional several weeks for me and my family. One full of love and overwhelming gratitude,” Tomassoni, I-Chisholm, said in a statement. “I am so proud of the Legislative Assembly for coming together in almost unanimous support for an issue that is beyond us all. This bill has the potential to be the beginning of the radiation of an insidious disease, not for me but for future generations. …

“This bill, along with the Healy clinical trials, provides a momentous opportunity to make meaningful progress toward a cure, right here in Minnesota,” Tomassoni added. “If we don’t do anything else this session, we can all say that we achieved something significant (and) something significant almost unanimously. I don’t remember ever having, in my 30 years in the Legislative Assembly, passing such an important bill so early in the session without opposing it to anything else, I think we can all be proud of that too.

The state’s $20 million is to go to Minnesota’s higher education official to award competitive research grants of up to $400,000 to scientists studying prevention, treatment, cause and cure.

ALS is progressive and neurodegenerative. It affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, ultimately robbing victims of their ability to walk, talk and, eventually, breathe. There is no remedy. An estimated 30,000 Americans have ALS, with approximately 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year. About 450 Minnesotans live with the disease, with the average lifespan for someone diagnosed being two to five years.

“Today our state is making real progress in the fight against ALS,” Governor Walz said during the signing of the legislation. “By investing in ALS research and supporting caregivers, we are moving forward together toward finding a cure for this disease and better care for Minnesotans living with ALS and their families.”

“Sen. Tomassoni is a great American and a great senator,” Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President Doug Loon said in an interview Thursday with members of the News Tribune editorial board. to see him in this condition. He’s a living legend with us in Minnesota.

Tomassoni’s legend was built on helping others, his commitment since his first election in 1993. His tireless hard work helped expand high-speed internet on the Range and bring the highway project to fruition. 53 of $230 million, which was legally required to use only American steel. . He has also been a strong supporter of the rigorous and thorough environmental review process that has brought us to the brink of a PolyMet copper-nickel mine on the Range and which could lead to an economy-boosting Twin Metals underground mine near ‘Ely.

Tomassoni has been defending the iron chain and its interests for 30 years. It’s no surprise that he’s doing all he can now to help others with ALS.

Six clinics in Minnesota conduct ALS research, including Essentia Health in Duluth. Nationally, about $115 million has been earmarked this year to find a cure. The research impetus of Tomassoni’s bill will bolster these efforts and could spur breakthroughs.

All Minnesotans can join Sen. Tom Bakk, I-Cook, who said last month that we’re “all working with (Tomassoni) to find a cure for this horrible disease.” And we can all pray that Minnesota’s research and care dollars will prove truly “groundbreaking.”

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