Navigation Links
Targeting astrocytes slows disease progression in ALS
Date:2/3/2008

In what the researchers say could be promising news in the quest to find a therapy to slow the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrigs disease, scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have shown that targeting neuronal support cells called astrocytes sharply slows disease progression in mice.

The study, conducted in the laboratory of Don Cleveland, Ph.D., UCSD Professor of Medicine, Neurosciences and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, will appear in the advance online publication on Nature Neuroscience's website on February 3rd.

Mutant genes that cause ALS are expressed widely, not just in the motor neurons, Cleveland explained. Targeting the partner cells like astrocytes, which live in a synergistic environment with the neuron cells, helps stop the cascade of damage. Therapeutically, this is the big news.

ALS is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurons, long and complex nerve cells that reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body, which act to control voluntary movement. Degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS leads to progressive loss of muscle control, paralysis and untimely death. Estimated to affect some 30,000 Americans, most people are diagnosed with ALS between the ages of 45 and 65. Typically, ALS patients live only one to five years after initial diagnosis.

In findings published in Science in June 2006, Cleveland and his colleagues showed that in early stages of inherited ALS, small immune cells called microglia are damaged by mutations in the SOD1 protein, and that these immune cells then act to significantly accelerate the degeneration of the motor neurons. The new study demonstrates that much the same thing happens to astrocytes, support cells that are essential to neuronal function, and whose dysfunction is implicated in many diseases. The researchers speculate that the non-neuronal cells play a vital role in nourishing the motor neurons and in scavenging toxins from the cellular environment. As with microglia, the helper role of astrocytes is altered due to mutations in the SOD1 protein.

We tested what would happen if we removed the mutant gene from astrocytes in mouse models, said Cleveland. What happened was it doubled the lifespan of the mouse after the onset of ALS.

Astrocytes are key components in balancing the neurotransmitter signals that neurons use to communicate. To examine whether mutant SOD1 damage to the astrocytes contributes to disease progression in ALS, researchers in the Cleveland lab used a genetic trick to excise the mutant SOD1 gene, but only in astrocytes. Reduction of the disease-causing mutant SOD1 in astrocytes did not slow disease onset or early disease; however, the late stage of the disease was extended, nearly doubling the normal life expectancy of a mouse with ALS.

Silencing the mutant gene in the astrocytes not only helps protect the motor neuron, but delays activation of mutant microglia that act to accelerate the progression of ALS, said Cleveland.

The findings show that mutant astrocytes are likely to be viable targets to slow the rate of disease spread and extend the life of patients with ALS. Cleveland added that this may prove especially important news to researchers in California and elsewhere working with stem cells. This gives scientists a good idea of what cells should be replaced using stem cell therapy. Astrocytes are very likely much easier to replace than the slow-growing motor neuron.


'/>"/>

Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Targeting gut bugs could revolutionize future drugs, say researcher
2. New Research Shows Nutrition Programs Targeting Pregnancy and First 24 Months of Life Dramatically Improve Child Survival and Overall Health
3. APIC launches Targeting Zero initiative to eradicate infections deemed preventable by CMS
4. Tobacco marketers targeting teens near schools
5. Anticancer Drugs Targeting the ErbB (EGFr/HEr2) Pathway Alone Generated Global Sales of Nearly $5 Billion in the First Nine Months of 2007
6. Phase I pharmacokinetic study of ECO-4601, a novel bifunctional targeting agent
7. Isis Adds New Drug to Its Development Pipeline: ISIS 388626 Targeting SGLT2 for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
8. Prime Access Creates Groundbreaking Ads Targeting Urban Teens for the White Houses National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
9. Chronic infection persists by targeting stromal cell network in lymphoid organs
10. Investigational Agent Targeting Metabotropic Glutamate 2/3 Receptors Demonstrates Antipsychotic Activity in Humans, Study in Nature Medicine Finds
11. Sorafenib Slows Growth of Some Leukemias
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... The January 2017 issue of the Journal ... on how outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) – also known as wilderness therapy – helped ... experiencing an increased sense of purpose both during and after treatment. , The ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... Ariz. (PRWEB) , ... January 23, 2017 , ... ... recently analyzed statistics from 140 Buzzies users who entered metrics into the product’s ... earlier clinical data. The new data showed that within just 30 seconds of ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... Clara, CA (PRWEB) , ... January 23, 2017 ... ... announces the launch of a new plugin that allows sleep centers to automatically ... Sleep Device Interface (SDI)—is a thin client browser plugin is quickly installed on ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... A Northwestern Pennsylvania addiction ... address. Alpine Springs Rehabilitation & Recovery Center’s new website can be found at ... with its redesigned and retooled website. The treatment center has also revamped its ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... ... for life science companies, has achieved ISO 17100:2015 certification following a comprehensive ... 17100 is the globally recognized standard that establishes guidance for critical processes ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/23/2017)... Longer life expectancy and rising healthcare expenditure in developing countries are ... BCC Research reveals in its new report that markets in ... see strong growth due to rising government healthcare spending, increased levels of ... Continue Reading ... ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... Spain , January 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... biopharmaceutical company focused on treatments for calcification disorders, ... enrolled in the Phase IIb "CaLIPSO Study" clinical ... of cardiovascular calcification (CVC) in end-stage-renal-disease (ESRD) patients ... in the last stage of chronic kidney disease, ...
(Date:1/22/2017)... , Saudi Arabia , January 22, 2017 ... US and UAE discuss ... at the World Economic Forum   "The management and ... big data and powered by artificial intelligence and this trend is going to ... ,Hospital of the Future, at the concluding day of the 47 th ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: