Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Monday that it has received orphan drug designationfrom the Food and Drug Administration for ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) to treatamyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Tarrytown, N.Y., company (NASDAQ:REGN) plans to begin clinical trial of CNTF, itslead product, by midyear. In animal studies, CNTF has been shown to promote the survivalof motor neuron cells that degenerate and die in people with ALS, the company said.

Regeneron shares closed at $22.13, down 13 cents, on Monday.