Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New evidence of retroviral involvement in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

08.02.2005


Project A.L.S. funds breakthrough research

A significant proportion of patients suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neuron disease, have a marker of retrovirus activity in their blood, reports the February 8 issue of the medical journal Neurology. The study was led by Dr. Jeremy A. Garson of University College London, UK and Dr. Ammar Al-Chalabi of King’s College London, UK, and was funded in full by Project A.L.S.

The research confirms and extends the results of earlier work by Drs Garson and Al-Chalabi in which they had found evidence of retroviral involvement in a group of UK patients with ALS. The present study on Americans with ALS, done in collaboration with Drs. Robert H. Brown, Jr. and Merit Cudkowicz at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, shows that 47% of ALS patients have reverse transcriptase activity detectable in their serum.



"This is a very exciting finding that points towards the possibility of retrovirus involvement in ALS. However, much work remains to be done and we are very much aware that in virology, as in other branches of medical science, finding an association is not the same as proving a cause," said Dr. Garson.

Reverse transcriptase is an enzyme associated with retroviruses. The presence of this enzyme activity in serum therefore implies that a retrovirus may be involved in ALS. It is not yet known whether the enzyme activity detected in this study reflects activation of a so-called endogenous retrovirus, which is already present in human DNA, or infection with an external exogenous retrovirus.

Retroviruses have been known for many years to be implicated in the pathogenesis of ALS-like syndromes in certain strains of mice and in rare cases of individuals with HIV infection. Drs. Garson and Al-Chalabi have demonstrated that the previously described human retroviruses HIV and HTLV are not involved in typical ALS cases. Future work will determine whether an endogenous retrovirus is activated in ALS, or whether there is infection with a novel, exogenous ALS-associated retrovirus.

The next phase of this exciting work, funded by Project A.L.S., has recently commenced. It is hoped that further progress in this area will lead to the development of improved diagnostic tests and novel therapeutic strategies, and to a greater understanding of the fundamental causes of this progressive and ultimately fatal neurological disease.

"The important study from King’s College and University College gives new life to the hypothesis that ALS is a consequence of an atypical infection; follow-up studies will now be essential to pin down the actual offending agent," said Dr. Brown.

Valerie Estess | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.projectals.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>