The largest-scale search for genes that underlie sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common form of the disease, has crossed its first hurdle with the successful compiling of genetic information on more than 1,000 patients and controls.
Researchers in the study, supported by The Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the ALS Association, present their initial findings this week at the 17th International Symposium on ALS/MDA at Yokohama, Japan. The symposium is the major venue, worldwide, for reporting studies on the disease.
It’s a good beginning to the first broad screening for genes for the “spontaneous” illness which, like all ALS, destroys the motor neurons that enable movement, including breathing.
Packard Center grantee Bryan Traynor and John Hardy, both with the NIH, are leading an American and Italian team of researchers in the million-dollar project. “If all goes well,” Traynor says, “the work will clarify the role of genes-or lack of it-in sporadic ALS. That role has long been uncertain,” he explains. “We don’t know, for example, if sALS is triggered by a handful of interacting genes or genes plus environment or environment alone. Our work aims to clarify that.”
In the study, DNA was collected from patients and healthy controls and successfully scanned for specific patterns that appear more frequently in those with the disease than those without it.
Critical to the work-known to scientists as a high resolution, genome-wide association study-is its technology. It’s a high-throughput approach (that is, it treats many samples simultaneously) that uses robotics and just-available gene finder chips to mine each patient’s DNA for information with a speed and accuracy not possible six months ago.
The project, which began last spring, was completed in record time, reflecting the highly collaborative nature of the involved scientists and clinicians. The NINDS, for example, contributed the American samples in the study from among those that ALS clinicians at multiple medical centers nationwide sent to its new national repository.
The researchers anticipate important analysis and conclusion-drawing will occur in the next few months.
Finding genes that lead directly to ALS or that predispose people to the disease should provide new targets for therapies. In the decade since discovering the cause of some inherited forms of ALS-namely, a mutation producing a flawed version of the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD1)-a handful of other ALS-related mutations have been brought to light.
The genetic underpinnings of sporadic ALS, however, are far less certain. Sporadic ALS, affecting 90 percent of ALS patients, apparently arises spontaneously without family history. Even though the disease is clinically indistinguishable from the ALS that runs in families, different genes may be responsible for each. Something is held in common, however, in the way that they both kill motor neurons. That’s why a gene change identified in one type can help understand the other.
Finding a scientifically significant tie between a gene or genes and ALS in this work will set the stage for even larger international investigations. “But even if we get no associations,” says Traynor, “that would suggest that sALS isn’t gene-based, that we should focus instead on the environment.”
Marjorie Centofanti | EurekAlert!
Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences