Researchers Say They’ve Found Common Cause of All Types of ALS
The apparent discovery of a common cause of all forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could give a boost to efforts to find a treatment for the fatal neurodegenerative disease, a new study contends.
Scientists have long struggled to identify the underlying disease process of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and weren’t even sure that a common disease process was associated with all forms of ALS.
In this new study, Northwestern University researchers said they found that the basis of ALS is a malfunctioning protein recycling system in the neurons of the brain and spinal cord. Efficient recycling of the protein building blocks in the neurons are critical for optimal functioning of the neurons. They become severely damaged when they can’t repair or maintain themselves.
This problem occurs in all three types of ALS: hereditary, sporadic and ALS that targets the brain, the researchers said.
The discovery, published Aug. 21 in the journal Nature, shows that all forms of ALS share an underlying cause and offers a common target for drug therapy, according to the researchers.