PIERRE – The South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) selected The Shepherd’s Gift as one of 14 recipients in its second round of 2017 Community Innovation Grants.
Community Innovation Grants provide funding aimed at uncovering breakthroughs in community needs across the state.
The $10,000 grant supports genetic testing to facilitate management decisions for cooperative sheep producers.
There are more than 30,000 symptomatic patients and over 100,000 at risk in the U.S. of Huntington’s Disease (HD). South Dakota sheep producers have a unique opportunity to raise lambs with a trait know as ovine GM1.
GM1 is a naturally occurring molecule in all mammals with neuroprotective and neurodegenerative properties. Lambs with GM1 contain 40 times the normal amounts of this molecule that has pharmaceutical potential.
It has been shown that patients with HD or Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are deficient in this molecule that protects brain cells. GM1 has the potential to halt and possibly reverse symptoms of these diseases. The Shepherd’s Gift is partnering with South Dakota State University and the USD Graduate Education and Research Center for the pharmaceutical grade manufacturing of GM1.
“The support from the South Dakota Community Foundation will help The Shepherd’s Gift fund the DNA testing of cooperating sheep producer’s lambs to identify the lambs that are a rich source of the natural molecule GM1 ganglioside”, said Dr. Greg Taylor, Shepherd’s Gift: GM1 for HD chairman. “The Shepherd’s Gift: GM1 for HD is about sheep producer families helping HD families improve the quality of their lives.”
“The Shepherd’s Gift project has unlimited potential,” said Stephanie Judson, SDCF president. “We are honored to play a small part in supporting this research that has implications for so many.”
During 2017, nonprofits across the state will receive a total of $400,000 through the Community Innovation Grant program, which is a partnership between the SDCF and the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation.