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:5/24/2017)... ... May 24, 2017 , ... ... pediatric dentistry options for its patients on Long Island, New York. , ... well being, and is one of the biggest trends in dentistry today. ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... NJ (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2017 , ... Technique, ... avoiding back injury when either lifting weights for strength training and exercise or simply ... Spine Center . , “Body position is everything,” Dr. Chang says. “Improper technique in ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... Allegheny Health Network ... The Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Women’s Behavioral Health at West Penn Hospital ... western Pennsylvania for women suffering from pregnancy-related depression. Construction of the Center is ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... Santa Rosa, California (PRWEB) , ... May 23, ... ... population health management (PHM) technology and a 2017 Best in KLAS category winner, ... an advantageous market position to extend and enhance its technology platform and product ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... By all indications, and due to months of ... call for diligence, asking homeowners to scout for any open water sources that can ... the annoying buzz of mosquitos is the buzz associated with potential infections stemming from ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/9/2017)... WASHINGTON , May 9, 2017  Demonstrating ... the board of directors for the Pharmaceutical Research ... criteria for membership. Biopharmaceutical companies will now have ... in order to be eligible to join PhRMA. ... criteria, the board is sending a clear message ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... 5, 2017   Provista , a proven leader in ... customers, today announced Jim Cunniff as the company,s ... and business experience to Provista, including most recently serving as ... California . He assumed his new role with ... great fit for Provista," says Jody Hatcher , president, ...
(Date:5/4/2017)... Clarius Mobile Health, a digital healthcare ... this week at the American Congress of Obstetricians ... San Diego, CA from May ... perfect tool for clinicians to easily confirm pregnancy, ... pregnancy-related complications like ectopic pregnancy and placenta previa," ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: