Grand Marnier family gives $5.8m to cure disorder
The Marnier Lapostolle Foundation, founded by the family responsible for Grand Marnier liqueur, has awarded a $5.8 million grant to help scientists find a cure for a rare genetic disorder.
It is the largest private grant ever made to the research of Angelman Syndrome – a neuro-genetic disorder in which the person affected is missing a functional gene on the maternal 15th chromosome.
This condition results in balance issues and motor impairment, with some patients unable to walk or talk. Debilitating seizures accompany the syndrome. However those affected have structurally normal brains.
Scientists believe that if they can either replace the missing or mutated gene, or turn on its normally silent, paternal mirror image copy in the brain, the symptoms of the disorder could be reversed. Angelman Syndrome affects 1 of 15,000 people, or about 350,000 worldwide.
Inspired by a family member who has a child with Angelman Syndrome, the Marnier-Lapostolle Foundation has awarded the sum to The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) in the hope of finding a cure faster.
A team of 24 scientists and pharmaceutical companies from five different laboratories at four universities across the US have been assembled to help search for treatments and ultimately a cure for the disorder.
“We are confident that a treatment and cure is possible in just a few short years”, said Paula Evans of FAST. “Money and time are the only things that stand in our way. The Marnier-Lapostolle Foundation has given us a great gift to accelerate our work and hope.”
The team has a two-year plan to complete pre-clinical testing of four potential treatments in order to move them through human clinical trial and ultimately federal Food and Drug Administration approval.
“To be part of the scientific effort to bring effective therapeutics to the lives of those who struggle with Angelman Syndrome will be an incredible legacy of our foundation,” said Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle de Bournet of the Marnier-Lapostolle Foundation.
Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle created Grand Marnier in 1880. Earlier this year, Gruppo Campari agreed to buy Société des Produits Marnier Lapostolle (SPML), the makers of Grand Marnier, for €684 million ($760m) in what it called a “friendly takeover”, taking Grand Marnier into the Campari portfolio.