Researchers Discover New ALS-Causing Gene

The first-known reports of symptoms of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, were recorded in the 1870s. Researchers have been trying to narrow down the causes and find treatments and cures ever since.

Late last month the ALS Association announced researchers discovered a new ALS-causing gene that is linked with another prominent disease gene.

The Research Findings

There is no one specific cause of ALS, which makes researching the disease all that much more important. While a larger percentage of persons affected by the disease are found to have a hereditary defect on chromosome 21, the majority of ALS cases are caused by other various gene mutations.

This new study found a specific link between ALS and Dementia through gene mutations on a gene called MATR3. Specifically they found the MATR3 protein, called matrin, interacts with the mutation process of TDP-43.

Normally, the TDP-43 aggregates inside cells, binds to DNA and to RNA and is involved in processing genetic messages. When it mutates it causes destruction to motor neurons and then becomes a hub of sorts for the ALS disease.

What This Means for ALS Research

The researchers that discovered this connection were excited at what this find means for ALS. Essentially, this discovery strengthened the theory that RNA processing is central for the disease development process.

They are now able to use this important discovery as jumping off point in taking a closer look at TDP-43, and hopefully develop therapies that restore normal function to the gene.

Looking to the Future

It’s possible that this research will lead to finding a cure for ALS and members of that community will no longer need the assistance of a handicap van. Until then, researchers and the ALS Association will keep searching for more information and testing treatments.

What could this research mean for yourself or your family? Tell us your story in the comments below!

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