"This is a game changer because it establishes a connection in the development of sporadic ALS with a known cause of familial ALS," said senior author Teepu Siddique, M.D., the Les Turner ALS Foundation/Herbert C. Wenske Professor of the Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurosciences at Feinberg and a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
"Our finding opens up a new field of investigation for rational therapy for all of ALS," Siddique added. "This is the holy grail of researchers in this field."
"There hasn't been a therapy for most of ALS, because the cause was unknown," Siddique said. "Three genes have been identified in ALS, but the problem has been connecting inherited ALS to sporadic ALS."
"We identified the FUS pathology in sporadic ALS and most familial ALS cases," said Han-Xiang Deng, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Feinberg and lead author of the paper. "The patients with the FUS pathology may account for about 90 percent of all ALS cases. Our findings suggest that pathological interaction of FUS with other proteins is a common theme in motor neuron degeneration in the vast majority of the ALS cases. We believe that this is a major step forward in formulating a common pathogenic pathway for motor neuron degeneration. Importantly, it may offer a novel avenue for developing therapies through targeting these FUS-containing inclusions."
The one exception to the new finding is when familial ALS is associated with a mutation on the SOD1 gene. In those patients and in the mutant SOD1 transgenic mouse models, researchers did not find evidence of FUS pathology.
"This tells us that it follows a different pathway of pathogenesis, so treatment for this form of the disease would have to be different," Deng said.
|Contact: Marla Paul|