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
"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)
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