Scientists Develop Mouse Model to Help Find Cure for ALS

Scientists have currently working on a mouse model to help treat Lou Gehrig’s disease better known as ALS, new report reveals.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and is associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that affects the spinal cord, nerve cells and pathways in the brain. A victim of the ailment experiences lower cognitive and memory abilities, paralysis, dementia and in worst case scenarios, death.

To date, there is no effective cure for the disease and many people eventually succumb to death once afflicted by the disease. The cost of managing the disease is also high and out of reach for many people, and some only seek treatment after it has progressed to very critical stagesdementia

Health researchers from the University of Florida have released a report about developing mouse model which may be the key to finding an effective treatment for ALS. Though the model is still undergoing trials, the researchers are expressing optimism after seeing encouraging results.

According to data, 30,000 people in the United States are affected by Lou Gehrig’s disease at any given point, and their life expectancy ranges from 2 to 5 years. The disease kills the nerve cells that are located in the brain and the spinal cord; the decreased number of cells negatively affects nervous system, memory and cognitive ability.

Laura P. Ranum, Ph.D, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at UF School of Medicine, member of faculty at UF Genetics Institute, and director of the UF Neurogenetics Centre says that using a mouse model is the best way to understand the mechanism of the disease, how it works, and the best way of combating it.

The research team focused on replicating the symptoms of the disease as they occur in human beings and the gene expression patterns. They also wanted to understand why some people were greatly affected by the disease and experienced paralysis, cognitive and behavioral problems yet others quickly recovered from the gene mutations. The team which spent four years developing the mouse model focused on a specific gene, C9or72 which plays a leading role.

Just like in humans only a certain percentage of the mice developed ALS even after the genes mutated. The team wants to get answers on why only 20% of the mice got affected and they believe that the answer to this problem may pave way in developing treatment for the neurodegenerative condition.