Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Discover Genetic Link Between Both Types of ALS

06.05.2010
Finding could ultimately lead to therapy for ALS

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered a link between sporadic and familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Researchers found that a protein called FUS forms characteristic skein-like cytoplasmic inclusions in spinal motor neurons in most cases of ALS. Mutations in this gene have been previously linked to a small subset of familial ALS cases. Researchers thus linked a rare genetic cause to most cases of ALS, clearing the way for rational therapy based on a known molecular target.

The study was recently published online in the Annals of Neurology.

ALS is a disease in which muscle-controlling nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord (motor neurons) die, resulting in rapidly progressive paralysis and death usually within three to five years of the onset of symptoms. Most cases of ALS are of unknown etiology and appear as sporadic ALS. About 5 to 10 percent of ALS cases are familial. Some forms of familial ALS are caused by genetic mutations in specific genes. Mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase gene (SOD1) account for approximately 20 percent of familial ALS cases. Mutations in the TAR DNA-binding protein gene (TDP43) and FUS gene occur in about 4 to 5 percent of the familial ALS cases. Altogether, mutations in specific genes have been identified in about 30 percent of familial ALS cases. In contrast to familial ALS, the etiology and the pathogenic mechanisms underlying sporadic ALS -- 90 percent of all ALS -- has remained largely unknown. Understanding the causes and pathogenic mechanisms of sporadic ALS is the major challenge in this disease.

For this study, researchers examined the post-mortem spinal cords and brains of 100 cases, 78 with ALS and 22 in a control group. They found FUS pathology in the spinal cords of all the ALS cases, except for a few cases with SOD1 mutations. But FUS pathology was not present in control cases without ALS.

"This is a game changer because it establishes a connection in the development of sporadic ALS with a known cause of familial ALS," said senior author Teepu Siddique, M.D., the Les Turner ALS Foundation/Herbert C. Wenske Professor of the Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurosciences at Feinberg and a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"Our finding opens up a new field of investigation for rational therapy for all of ALS," Siddique added. "This is the holy grail of researchers in this field."

"There hasn't been a therapy for most of ALS, because the cause was unknown," Siddique said. "Three genes have been identified in ALS, but the problem has been connecting inherited ALS to sporadic ALS."
"We identified the FUS pathology in sporadic ALS and most familial ALS cases," said Han-Xiang Deng, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Feinberg and lead author of the paper. "The patients with the FUS pathology may account for about 90 percent of all ALS cases. Our findings suggest that pathological interaction of FUS with other proteins is a common theme in motor neuron degeneration in the vast majority of the ALS cases. We believe that this is a major step forward in formulating a common pathogenic pathway for motor neuron degeneration. Importantly, it may offer a novel avenue for developing therapies through targeting these FUS-containing inclusions."

The one exception to the new finding is when familial ALS is associated with a mutation on the SOD1 gene. In those patients and in the mutant SOD1 transgenic mouse models, researchers did not find evidence of FUS pathology.

"This tells us that it follows a different pathway of pathogenesis, so treatment for this form of the disease would have to be different," Deng said.

The study is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Les Turner ALS Foundation, the Vena E. Schaff ALS Research Fund, the Harold Post Research Professorship, the Herbert and Florence C. Wenske Foundation, the David C. Asselin MD Memorial Fund and the Les Turner ALS Foundation/Herbert and Florence C. Wenske Professorship.

Marla Paul is the health sciences editor.
Contact her at marla-paul@northwestern.edu

Marla Paul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>