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Gene hunters close in on Lou Gehrig’s disease

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“This is the first major step toward understanding how genetics may influence the most common form of ALS,?says co-researcher Jeffrey D. Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins. “The results will not only help us to better understand sporadic ALS but also to tailor tools that will reveal therapies for it.?

Traynor cautioned that the 34 SNPs are not guaranteed trail markers for ALS genes. “If you roll dice 555,352 times, you are bound to get lucky by chance alone on some of those throws,?he says. “The next step is to go back and figure out which of these ‘hits?are real and which are false.?

Thousands of other SNPs were more weakly associated with ALS, some of which could turn out to be just as important as those more strongly linked.

Traynor says a follow-up study is in the works that will replicate the research using a similar number of patients and controls. Traynor, who has a joint affiliation with the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., collaborated in this study with lead author Jennifer Schymick and fellow researcher John Hardy, Ph.D., both of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, from the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins and from the University of Turin, Italy, also contributed to this study.
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Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


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