ALS is a fatal neurological disease that leaves patients struggling with a
progressive loss of motor function while generally leaving cognitive functions
intact. There is no known cure for ALS and the average life span of an ALS
patient is two to five years. Currently, there is almost no way to accurately
predict how quickly the disease will progress - some patients, like famous theoretical
physicist Stephen Hawking, live for decades. At the same time, the development
of effective treatments is dependent, in part, on accurate lifespan
predictions. Therefore, a breakthrough in understanding future disease
progression is critical.
The new Prize4Life Challenge is based on the PRO-ACT database, which upon
completion will contain clinical data for more than 7,500 ALS patients from
completed clinical trials. The entire PRO-ACT database will be available for
research purposes by year's end and the ALS Prediction Prize will use a subset
of this data. Ultimately, it is expected that the solution resulting from this
Challenge will improve disease prediction and lead to more accurate methods of forecasting
progression earlier on in the course of the disease.
We are very excited about the creation of the PRO-ACT database on which this prize
competition is based, and we are thankful to everyone who helped PRO-ACT get to
this point, particularly the Northeast ALS Consortium, the ALS Therapy
Alliance, The DREAM Project, and, of course, the companies that were generously
willing to share their ALS clinical trial data, including Sanofi and Teva
Pharmaceuticals," said Dr. Melanie Leitner, Chief Scientific Officer of
Prize4Life. "We hope that the breakthrough in the prediction of ALS progression
resulting from this Challenge will be just the first of many future ALS
clinical breakthroughs accelerated by the creation of the PRO-ACT database."
To be eligible to win, Solvers will have to perform better than an established
benchmark generated using an "off-the-shelf" machine learning algorithm.
Solvers will be given the opportunity to test their algorithms on a validation
set, the results of which will appear on a leaderboard along with the relative
ranking of participating Solvers. This submission for validation (and ranking
on the leaderboard) during the competition will be completely voluntary. To
participate, Solvers will need to submit their evolving code to InnoCentive to
run against an interim validation set. Solvers will be able to submit their
code for validation (and as a result, view their updated ranking on the
leaderboard) up to 100 times during the validation phase.
On October 1, 2012, the leaderboard will be closed and the data from the
validation set will be released to participating Solvers for further testing
and refining of their models. By October 15, final submissions will be required
in order to be eligible for the $25,000 prize. Interested Solvers can find
additional information, including a data dictionary, scoring metrics, and other
salient details, by logging in to view the Challenge on
We are delighted to work with Prize4Life on this important new prize initiative,"
said Dr. Merit Cudkowicz, Chief of Neurology Services at Mass General Hospital
and co-director of the Northeast ALS Consortium. "There are huge opportunities
to learn more about ALS from existing databases of clinical data. This
collaborative effort will attract new investigators to the ALS field and
improve understanding of ALS."
The ALS Prediction Prize is the second Challenge in which Prize4Life partnered with
InnoCentive. The first was the $1 million ALS Biomarker Prize awarded in early
2011 to Dr. Seward Rutkove of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston
for his development of a technology that accurately measures the progression of
ALS in patients.
We are thrilled to be working with Prize4Life again to further its efforts to
discover treatments, and ultimately a cure, for ALS," said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO
of InnoCentive. "We are also very thankful for the generous support of our
partners Nature Publishing Group, Popular
Science and The Economist to
extend the reach of this important Challenge to millions of additional