Researchers discover blood biomarker for Lou Gehrig's disease, could lead to new treatments
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) are the first to discover that changes in monocytes (a type of white blood cell) are a biomarker for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. This finding also brings the medical community a step closer toward a new treatment for the debilitating neurological disease that affects approximately 30,000 Americans.
The study will be published online in The Journal of Clinical Investigation on August 6, 2012.
In pre-clinical studies involving mice with an ALS gene mutation, the researchers saw that two months prior to ALS onset, monocytes in the spleen began exhibiting proinflammatory qualities. As disease onset loomed, there was an increase in cell-signaling molecules that directed monocytes to flood the spinal cord. Influx of these inflamed white blood cells was associated with nerve cell death in the spinal cord.
When the researchers treated the mice with antibodies to modulate the inflammatory monocytes, they found that it led to fewer monocytes entering the spinal cord, diminished nerve cell loss and extended survival.
After having observed these activities in mice, the BWH researchers, working with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) ALS Clinic and research team, found that there were similar monocytes in humans with ALS that also exhibited a disease-specific inflammatory signature.
"People have wondered if the immune system plays a role in neurological diseases like ALS," said Howard Weiner, MD, director of the BWH Multiple Sclerosis Program and senior study author. "The immune system is complicated, and previous immunotherapy trials have not been successful. But now we know what is wrong in the blood, and this opens up new therapeutic targets for ALS and perhaps other diseases in the near future."
Study co-author Merit Cudkowicz, MD, who heads the ALS program at MGH adds, "These findings identify a potential new target for developing treatments for people with ALS."
Oleg Butovsky, PhD, BWH Department of Neurology is first study author and lead scientist on the study.
Each year, approximately 5,600 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALS, a disease that affects nerve and muscle functioning, eventually leading to paralysis. The average age at diagnosis is 55 years old and half of those affected live at least three or more years after being diagnosed. Twenty percent live five years or more, and up to 10 percent will live more than ten years.
More information: Modulating inflammatory monocytes with a unique microRNA signature ameliorates murine ALS, Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation
Provided by Brigham and Women's Hospital
- Potential new drug target in Lou Gehrig's disease Nov 14, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientist develop novel approach to study neurological disorders Jun 24, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- How immune system, inflammation may play role in Lou Gehrig's disease Jun 05, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Human-cell-derived model of ALS provides a new way to study the majority of cases Aug 11, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Mild obesity appears to improve survival in ALS patients May 11, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
17 hours ago Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
By discovering the new mechanism by which estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis in the liver, UC Irvine endocrinologists have revealed a potential new approach toward treating certain liver diseases.
Medical research 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Aortic arch pulse wave velocity, a measure of arterial stiffness, is a strong independent predictor of disease of the vessels that supply blood to the brain, according to a new study published in the June issue the journal ...
Medical research 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Since the discovery of Prontosil in 1932, sulfonamide antibiotics have been used to combat a wide spectrum of bacterial infections, from acne to chlamydia and pneumonia. However, their side effects can include serious neurological ...
Medical research 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Medical research 8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Spanish researchers have discovered that the daily clearance of neutrophils from the body stimulates the release of hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, according to a report published today ...
Medical research 9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0
4 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (5) | 0 |
8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 2 |
10 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (7) | 0 |
8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Ethnic background plays a surprisingly large role in how diabetes develops on a cellular level, according to two new studies led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Even while being dragged to its destruction inside a cell, a cancer-promoting growth factor receptor fires away, sending signals that thwart the development of tumor-suppressing microRNAs (miRNAs) before it's dissolved, researchers ...
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |