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:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes , ... mock evacuation of the facility as part of a disaster drill on October 3rd. ... EMS and Shelton City Emergency Manager, as well as the Connecticut Long Term ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House of Yahweh, has released ... understood books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. The Book of Revelation paints a picture ... Many have tossed it off as mere rubbish, but Yisrayl Hawkins says that is ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... First Healthcare ... program management, will showcase a range of technology and learning solutions at the ... Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Bethesda, MD (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... Award of Excellence to Carol Friedman, PhD, FACMI, during the Opening Session of AMIA’s ... 4 – 8. , In honor of Morris F. Collen, a pioneer in the ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... of their peers in Washington, D.C., for the 49th Congress of the International ... Ph.D ., Vice President of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/22/2017)... Md. , Sept. 22, 2017  As the ... Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and ... Information notes that the medical device industry is in ... medical device tax, the 2.3% excise tax on medical ... But they also want covered patients, increased visits and ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... 2017   ZirMed Inc ., a recognized leader in ... it has been ranked #1 by its users for the ... 2017 User Survey. ZirMed was recognized as the top-ranked end-to-end ... medical centers over 200 beds and holds one of the ... survey history. ...
(Date:9/13/2017)... Sept. 13, 2017   OrthoAtlanta has been named ... Football Host Committee (AFHC) for the 2018 College Football Playoff ... 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia ... AFHC "I,m In" campaign, participating in many activities leading up ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: