While it is of utmost interest to find a cure for ALS soon, we should take the time to research and evaluate the cellular processes that lead to disease and take this knowledge to develop highly effective and target-specific therapeutic strategies. Session 6A aimed to do precisely that: to look more closely at the cell biology and pathology involved in ALS.
thetheDuring years of research on ALS, numerous models of this disease have been developed. Currently, scientists have many different tools for this purpose. From animals carrying ALS mutations to various cell lines and cultures. Although whole organisms like mutated flies and mice give excellent opportunity for some studies, sometimes scientists are overwhelmed by the vast number of factors which can affect the results in in vivo models. For those cases in vitro modelling is a much better solution. It allows control of much more parameters and factors during procedures. Also, recent advances in techniques used for in vitro modelling simplifies experiment preparation, saving a lot of time and money, which can be dedicated for other purposes. During the 25th International Symposium on ALS/MND we had a wonderful opportunity to acquaint with data provided by in vitro models of ALS. Continue reading
ALS is a very complicated disease. After years of study, diagnosis is still taking months. Lack of proper biomarkers also make the prognosis of the disease very difficult. Prediction of the progression of ALS is extremely important for patients and their caregivers. It is crucial for the researchers involved in clinical trials for new therapies.
This important issue is currently being investigated by several research groups. During Biomarker I session of 25th International Symposium on ALS/MND we had the occasion to familiarize ourself with several studies on biomarkers for this devastating disease. Continue reading
The Cognitive Change session of the International Symposium on ALS/MND in Brussels, Belgium did not fail to impress. Chaired by two of the foremost researchers in the field (Prof Sharon Abrahams and Prof Orla Hardiman), it attracted quite the audience. Their chairing did not disappoint, with a great mixture of well-aimed questions, excellent introductions and, for lack of a better phrase, good banter. Continue reading
There has been much debate regarding the role of diet and various nutrients in altering the course of ALS. In today’s plenary on Nutritional Assessment and Management researchers researchers aimed to answer some of these questions. Dr. Gennings (USA) opened the session with the talk on the relationship between different types of nutrients and physical function in ALS. Preliminary cross-sectional data from the COSMOS study suggests that micronutrients such as omega, selenium, vitamin E and vitamin K are associated with higher ALSFRS-R and FVC, while foods such as milk and cheese with lower. Due to the cross-sectional data the causal relationships could not be inferred, but it is hoped that the longitudinal data which is currently being collected will provide us with more definitive answers. Continue reading
Around the time I first started working in Sheffield in 2008 it was discovered that an RNA processing protein called TDP-43 is a key component of brain pathology in the majority of motor neuron disease (MND) / amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Following that finding the importance of RNA processing to our understanding of the disease pathogenesis has grown and grown. This has only increased with the discovery of an intronic GGGGCC-repeat expansion in C9orf72 in 10% of all ALS patients; it appears that this mutation is intimately tied up with basic RNA biology in the cell. So to me it seemed that the RNA processing session at the MNDA Symposium was likely to be very exciting and right at the cutting edge of our disease understanding. I was right. Continue reading
Posted on behalf of Tom Jenkins:
In the clinic before I left for this conference, one of my patients expressed his hope that there would be a new treatment available this year. I travelled to Brussels for the annual MND Association meeting with his words in my ears, hopeful that I could take some encouraging news back from this annual gathering of world experts. In the 2nd Century, Tertullian wrote that hope is patience with the lamp lit and this seems apposite today for people with MND, so often patient and optimistic even in the face of such short time. So, it was with my patient’s words in mind that I sat in the Trials and Trial Design session, our forum for new treatments in MND. Continue reading