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08 May 2007

ALS detection breakthrough

Researchers in Canada have developed the first antibody that detects the only known cause of the fatal nervous disorder ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, they announced Monday.

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Researchers in Canada have developed the first antibody that detects the only known cause of the fatal nervous disorder ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, they announced Monday.

The antibody they developed acts as a tool that could eventually help to diagnose the disease earlier and find ways to immunise against it, the researchers at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine said.

It identifies "misfolded" mutations in the enzyme superoxide-dimutase-1 (SOD1), which cause about 1 to 2% of all cases of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

ALS is a progressive disorder that attacks the nerves and muscles, causing complete paralysis and death usually within 2 to 5 years. There is currently no known cure or effective treatment.

"This antibody will enable researchers to investigate whether misfolded SOD1 is involved in other forms of ALS," lead author Janice Robertson, a professor of laboratory medicine and pathobiology at the university, said in a statement.

May lead to earlier diagnosis
If SOD1 is found also to be relevant in other ALS cases, "then the antibody could potentially be used in biomarker studies to facilitate earlier diagnosis of the disease," she said.

The antibody also opens up the possibility of developing immunisation strategies for the treatment of ALS caused by SOD1 mutations, the researchers said.

More than 114 mutations have been identified and it is not yet known how so many different mutations result in the same disease.

The findings were published in the online edition of Nature Medicine Monday and will appear in its June print edition.

The research was funded by the Neuromuscular Research Partnership of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the ALS Society of Canada and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada, the US ALS Association, the British Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Temerety Family Trust. – (Sapa-AFP)

Read more:
Stem cells may slow ALS
ALS weakens muscles

May 2007

 
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