Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

ALS Research Briefs

DNA variants

Variant sequences of DNA within a small region of chromosome 9 have been found to be associated with sporadic ALS (ALS without a family history) in a study that compared samples from people with and without the disease living in the United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, France, Sweden and Belgium; and in another study that compared DNA samples from those with familial ALS (ALS with a family history) to those without the disease in Finland.

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Learn More About Ceftriaxone and ALS

Editor's note: The information on joining this webinar has been updated, per the presenters, Sept. 1, 2010.

A clinical trial of the drug ceftriaxone in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is currently recruiting participants at 54 locations across the United States and Canada. (For details, see Ceftriaxone Trial Still Open.) Laboratory studies suggest the drug protects motor neurons from injury.

ALS Research Briefs

Biogen Idec and Knopp Neurosciences announced Aug. 18, 2010, that they have entered into an agreement to continue developing KNS-760704 (dexpramipexole) as an experimental treatment for ALS. The drug helps protect nerve cells under adverse conditions. A phase 2 trial by Knopp showed the drug had favorable effects on motor function and survival in people with ALS.

Expanded Ataxin 2 Genes a Major Contributor to ALS Risk

Scientists working in the United States and Germany have uncovered what appears to be the most common genetic contributor to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis so far identified.

The genetic factor is a segment of the ataxin 2 gene that's slightly longer than average, which causes the ataxin 2 protein to contain more molecules of the amino acid glutamine than it normally would.

Research Briefs: ALS, BMD, DMD, MMD, SMA, Muscle Regeneration

Amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

ALS Experts Urge Caution Regarding Head Injury Findings

A new study has claimed professional athletes who have sustained repeated head injuries and developed what's known as "chronic traumatic encephalopathy" (CTE) may also be at higher-than-average risk for developing a motor neuron disease that resembles amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or is a subtype of ALS.

The two diseases may be part of a continuum of nervous-system pathology that can start with repeated head trauma and ultimately involve the brain and spinal cord, resulting in cognitive, behavioral and motor abnormalities, the study's investigators say.

MDA Awards More Than $14 Million in Research Grants

MDA has awarded 38 new research grants totaling more than $14 million and covering more than a dozen neuromuscular diseases. 

MDA's Board of Directors met in Los Angeles July 16, where it reviewed and approved the new grants based on recommendations from the MDA Scientific and Medical Advisory Committees. Grants were scored and recommended for approval based on the capabilities of the applicant, the scientific merit of the project, and the proposal's relevance to developing treatments for the disease. The effective start date for all grants was July 1, 2010.

MDA Awards Nearly $3.5 Million in New ALS Grants

MDA has awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $3.5 million to fund research projects focused on uncovering the causes of, and developing therapies for, ALS.

The new grants went to investigators at labs in the United States, Canada and Israel.

More FUS-Related ALS Cases Found

Mutations in the gene for a protein called FUS may be a more widely distributed cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than previously recognized, according to three separate reports, all published in July 2010 in the journal Neurology.

Blocking a Protein Extends Survival in ALS Mice

Elevated levels of an immune-system protein called interleukin-1-beta (IL-1-beta) exacerbates a disease in mice that closely resembles human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and blocking this protein extends survival in these mice, a research team in Germany has found.

The study adds to the accumulating evidence that the immune system misbehaves in ALS and that altering its behavior could be a way to treat the disease.

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