Mellor starts organization called Boston Cure Project
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
By Les G. Masterson / Staff Writer
Faced with the life-altering news that he had multiple sclerosis two years ago, Arlington resident Art Mellor did what any self-proclaimed "MIT nerd" would do - he researched.
"I was determined to learn everything about it," said Mellor.
He read books, scoured the Internet and talked to doctors and researchers. What Mellor found was distressing and the Arlingtonian and his neurologist, Dr. Tim Vartanian, commiserated with one another about the snail's pace of MS research. They decided to do something about it.
Mellor left his job in the technology world, which included co-founding four software companies, and the two men created Boston Cure Project in August 2001. Boston Cure, which has an office in Waltham and is officially run out of Mellor's Arlington Center home, now includes three full-time employees, an 11-person scientific advisory board, and several hundred volunteers, whose lives have been touched by MS.
The group's mission is to find a cure for MS and is working on two projects that Mellor believes could help move closer to that goal.
Boston Cure just launched a multi-disciplinary blood and tissue bank program. The former engineer and entrepreneur said the bank will acquire and store "high quality" blood and tissue samples from MS patients, which will then be used for research purposes.
The database will allow scientists from different genres to go to a one-stop shop. Mellor said a single gene or virus does not cause MS and could be a family of illnesses.
With that in mind, Mellor said scientists exploring the same blood and tissue samples within their specialized areas could help in the drive to find a cure. He hopes to create a reserve of 10,000 blood samples and eventually obtain spinal fluid and brain samples.
"One of the main differences in what we're doing and others are doing is that we are taking an active role in forming something that is missing in research," he said.
Boston Cure is also going to start cataloging literature dealing with MS. They will organize the information into areas so researchers can view the materials when researching specific areas.
Mellor said this will allow scientists, who don't have the time or resources, to not have to mine through unrelated aspects of MS.
"It's got to be somebody else who initiates (collecting data)," said Mellor. "Who better than people who have been affected by the disease."
Though there has been some progress in MS research in the past 10 years, Mellor said the treatments don't have any effect for many afflicted with the disease.
"Those treatments have not been developed out of a deep understanding of the disease. They are kind of serendipitous," he said.
Boston Cure has collected funds from sponsors of their events and donations for its projects. They have not started applying for grants yet and Mellor said the group needs to develop further before trying for the larger grants.
Boston Cure received a boost this month from South Boston-based Teak Media Communication, which named the Arlington-based organization its Charity of the Month for November. The PR firm developed the contest to help smaller charities gain public recognition. Teak Media Communication also donated $1,000 to Boston Cure.
"I am in awe of people who believe in their own power to make the world a better place," said Jackie Herskovitz, president of Teak Media Communication. "The Boston Cure Project is exceptional in that it is a small organization, run by a handful of people, whose work may one day improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people."
For more information on Boston Cure Project, call 781-788-0880, go online
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