Scientists identify compound to reverse neuron damage from ALS

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© iStock/koto_feja

For the first time, scientists have identified a compound to repair amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) neuron damage.

Scientists at Northwestern University have identified the compound that is able to reverse the degeneration of upper motor neurons that become diseased, and which are a key contributor to ALS – a fatal neurodegenerative disease that causes paralysis.

In ALS, movement-initiating nerve cells in the brain known as upper motor neurons and muscle-controlling nerve cells in the spinal cord known as lower motor neurons die, resulting in rapidly progressing paralysis and death. Currently, there is no treatment for the brain component of ALS, and no drug for hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) – conditions also caused by neuron degeneration.

Senior author Hande Ozdinler, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “Even though the upper motor neurons are responsible for the initiation and modulation of movement, and their degeneration is an early event in ALS, so far there has been no treatment option to improve their health. We have identified the first compound that improves the health of upper motor neurons that become diseased…

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