Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative muscle condition that impacts nerves in both the brain and spinal cord. ALS affects tens of thousands of people worldwide and has a mean survival rate of two to five years. As of yet, there has been no known cause or cure for the disease, which typically begins with muscle weakness or slurring and gradually progresses.
Recently, Dr. Amir Dori, Director of Sheba’s Neuromuscular Diseases Clinic, joined a team from Tel Aviv University, as well as scientists from Europe and the U.S., to conduct unique research on the root cause of ALS.
In a breakthrough discovery, the researchers found that ALS is caused by a buildup of a protein called TDP-43 in neuromuscular junctions responsible for translating signals from the brain to physical movements.
Beyond this notable initial finding, the team was also able to reduce that protein buildup through the use of a molecule originally developed to enhance neural regeneration after injury, offering a way to slow down the disease and potentially even reverse its debilitating effects.
This, the team believes, could eventually make ALS a treatable disease. Details of the research were documented in the journal Nature Communications