Understanding the many roads that can lead to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)is a painstaking but necessary prerequisite to development of disease-modifying treatments. Recently, several research teams have made contributions to this effort. A 2011 MDA career development grant to Adrian Israelson, who was then at the University of California, San Diego, was crucial to the finding that the MIF protein counteracts the effects of ALS-causing mutations in the SOD1 gene.
Biopharmaceutical company Genervon has announced what it considers encouraging results from a "compassionate use" trial of its experimental drug GM604 in a single patient with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Stem cells -- cells at an early stage of development that can mature and fulfill specific roles depending on their environment and signals they receive – have intrigued scientists as a possible treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for several years. Now, two biotechnology companies – BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics and Neuralstem – are reporting encouraging results from ALS clinical trials.
Stanley Appel, a professor of neurology at Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $253,800 over three years to study immune mechanisms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Experiments previously conducted by Appel and colleagues in mice with an ALS-like disorder have shown that the immune system acts to protect nerve cells during the early stages of the disease but that it damages nerve cells in the disorder’s later stages.
Muralidhar Hegde, a professor at the Houston (Texas) Methodist Research Institute, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $253,800 over three years to study whether deficient repair of DNA strand breaks by a protein called TDP43 is involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) causation. Hegde will conduct experiments in mouse and human cells and says the result could lead to a “major paradigm shift in our understanding of ALS pathology” and “open up new avenues for therapeutic interventions.”
Amanda Haidet-Phillips, a postdoctoral student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, was awarded an MDA research development grant totaling $150,717 over three years to investigate how cells known as upper motor neurons, located in the top part of the brain, degenerate in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).