Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Newly Identified Bone Marrow Stem Cells Reveal Markers for ALS

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, July 12, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Genes could give new direction for diagnostics and therapeutics research, says a TAU researcher.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating motor neuron disease that rapidly atrophies the muscles, leading to complete paralysis. Despite its high profile — established when it afflicted the New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig — ALS remains a disease that scientists are unable to predict, prevent, or cure.

Although several genetic ALS mutations have been identified, they only apply to a small number of cases. The ongoing challenge is to identify the mechanisms behind the non-genetic form of the disease and draw useful comparisons with the genetic forms.

Now, using samples of stem cells derived from the bone marrow of non-genetic ALS patients, Prof. Miguel Weil of Tel Aviv University's Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Personalized Medicine in the Department of Cell Research and Immunology and his team of researchers have uncovered four different biomarkers that characterize the non-genetic form of the disease. Each sample shows similar biological abnormalities to four specific genes, and further research could reveal additional commonalities. "Because these genes and their functions are already known, they give us a specific direction for research into non-genetic ALS diagnostics and therapeutics," Prof. Weil says. His initial findings were reported in the journal Disease Markers.

Giving in to stress

Although several genetic ALS mutations have been identified, they only apply to a small number of cases. The ongoing challenge is to identify the mechanisms behind the non-genetic form of the disease and draw useful comparisons with the genetic forms.

To hunt for these biomarkers, Prof. Weil and his colleagues turned to samples of bone marrow collected from ALS patients. Though more difficult to collect than blood, bone marrow’s stem cells are easy to isolate and grow in a consistent manner. In the lab, he used these cells as cellular models for the disease. He ultimately discovered that cells from different ALS patients shared the same abnormal characteristics of four different genes that may act as biomarkers of the disease. And because the characteristics appear in tissues that are related to ALS — including in muscle, brain, and spinal cord tissues in mouse models of genetic ALS — they may well be connected to the degenerative process of the disease in humans, he believes.

Searching for the biological significance of these abnormalities, Prof. Weil put the cells under stress, applying toxins to induce the cells' defense mechanisms. Healthy cells will try to fight off threats and often prove quite resilient, but ALS cells were found to be overwhelmingly sensitive to stress, with the vast majority choosing to die rather than fight. Because this is such an ingrained response, it can be used as a feature for drug screening for the disease, he adds.

The hunt for therapeutics

Whether these biomarkers are a cause or consequence of ALS is still unknown. However, this finding remains an important step towards uncovering the mechanisms of the disease. Because these genes have already been identified, it gives scientists a clear direction for future research. In addition, these biomarkers could lead to earlier and more accurate diagnostics.

Next, Prof. Weil plans to use his lab's high-throughput screening facility — which can test thousands of compounds' effects on diseased cells every day — to search for drug candidates with the potential to affect the abnormal expression of these genes or the stress response of ALS cells. A compound that has an impact on these indicators of ALS could be meaningful for treating the disease, he says.

Prof. Weil is the director of the new Cell Screening Facility for Personalized Medicine at TAU. The facility is dedicated to finding potential drugs for rare and Jewish hereditary diseases.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Poor Survival Rates in Leukemia Linked to Persistent Genetic Mutations
For patients with an often-deadly form of leukemia, new research suggests that lingering cancer-related mutations – detected after initial treatment with chemotherapy – are associated with an increased risk of relapse and poor survival.
Marijuana Genome Unraveled
A study by Canadian researchers is providing a clearer picture of the evolutionary history and genetic organization of cannabis, a step that could have agricultural, medical and legal implications for this valuable crop.
Growing Hepatitis C in the Lab
Recent discovery allows study of naturally occurring forms of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the lab.
Signature of Microbiomes Linked to Schizophrenia
Studying microbiomes in throat may help identify causes and treatments of brain disorder.
Study Identifies the Off Switch for Biofilm Formation
New discovery could help prevent the formation of infectious bacterial films on hospital equipment.
Genetic Overlapping in Multiple Autoimmune Diseases May Suggest Common Therapies
CHOP genomics expert leads analysis of genetic architecture, with eye on repurposing existing drugs.
Fat in the Family?
Study could lead to therapeutics that boost metabolism.
Combo Tool
Joining molecular components expands ability to manipulate genes in specific cell types.
Team Identifies Structure of Tumor-Suppressing Protein
An international group of researchers led by Carnegie Mellon University physicists Mathias Lösche and Frank Heinrich have established the structure of an important tumor suppressing protein, PTEN.
Genes Associated With Improved Survival for Pancreatic Cancer Patients
Use of non-invasive liquid biopsies could predict in which patients the cancer could recur following surgery.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!