ALS: ‘Unique’ cells could open up new avenues for therapy

By Maria Cohut: For More Info, Go Here…

Currently, “No one test can provide a definitive diagnosis of ALS,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and doctors eventually diagnose the condition based on its symptoms.

For this reason, most people with ALS receive their diagnosis when the condition has already progressed to a visible extent.

New research from the University of Illinois at Chicago has identified, for the first time, a set of biomarkers that sets people with ALS apart from those without a neurodegenerative disease.

“Since there must be cellular changes occurring in spinal cord regions adjacent to areas where the disease has clearly affected motor neurons in the spine, we wanted to look at neurons from these adjacent areas to determine if they are different from healthy tissue,” explains lead researcher Dr. Fei Song.

The researchers thus found that people who had died from focal-onset ALS had different types of motor neurons, compared with healthy individuals.

Moreover, these differences were associated with microglia and astrocytes, two types of specialized neural cells that did not make an appearance in samples collected from the same regions of the spinal cord in healthy participants.

“When we examined the data, it was clear that the mixture of cells from the ALS patients was very different from patients with no neurodegenerative disease,” notes Dr. Song.

These findings, the team argues, could, in the future, allow them to better understand some of the mechanisms underlying ALS and perhaps come up with targeted therapeutic strategies.

Leave a Reply