The approach described in this paper is becoming popular. We are participating in a similar study but for spinal cord injury. The authors report the results from a consortium of investigators who screened 1040 drugs for their ability to protect motoneurons in culture. They identified 78 compounds that did not.

Vincent AM, Backus C, Taubman AA and Feldman EL (2005). Identification of candidate drugs for the treatment of ALS. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord 6: 29-36. A consortium of investigators interested in neurodegenerative diseases collaborated to screen 1040 drugs in multiple neurodegenerative disease assays. One model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) pathogenesis in particular incorporated glutamate exposure in enriched primary rat motor neuron cultures. In this model 78 compounds decreased motor neuron death caused by 100 microM glutamate. Almost all these pharmacological agents act at one or more of the following cellular targets: 1) protein synthesis inhibition; 2) Cox inhibition; 3) regulation of anion flux; 4) modulation of GABA receptors; 5) antioxidant, and 6) cell cycle inhibition. The most prevalent mode of action was the regulation of intracellular calcium. These data extend the understanding of motor neuron degeneration and identify a number of cellular targets for the improvement of combined therapies for neurodegenerative disease. Department of Neorology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.