Within the first few months of life, one in 100,000 infants will develop Krabbe Disease, a neurological disorder that is oftentimes fatal.
Thanks to an infusion of $2 million in federal funding, the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute at the University of Buffalo will continue its work in researching the disease in the hopes of finding new treatments or a cure.
The institute is named for Hunter Kelly, the son of Jim and Jill Kelly. Hunter fought the rare disease for eight years after he was diagnosed in 1997.
Dr. Laura Feltri, one of the co-directors of the institute, said the passion from the Kelly family was motivation to dive into this research.
"Since we came here because of the investment of UB, the Center of Excellency and New York State, we were able actually to assemble an amazing group and to start developing this program much more fully," said Feltri, who is also a professor in the school’s Departments of Biochemistry and Neurology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
This funding is just the latest in a series of awards helping to further the institute’s research.
"We're building a bio-bank to have patient samples with data connected to it,” said Norma Nowalk, executive director of UB’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. “We have an AI institute that can then mine that data, but it only matters when you have passionate researchers like Dr. Feltri and Dr. Wrabetz and the team they've put together to help us carry out that work.”
Rep. Brian Higgins said funding like this is vital to the institute’s future.
"New treatment delayed is new treatment denied,” said Higgins, D-NY 26th District. “Federal investments in biomedical speed that pace of breakthroughs, lower long-term health care costs, support jobs and economic opportunity for communities like this one right here in Buffalo and Western New York, and they demonstrate that by beating debilitating diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and Krabbes Disease is not just a mission for individuals diagnosed but a priority for America.”