Biomarker could lead to treatment for ALS

photoPatient specific stem cell-derived motor neurons stained for the neuronal marker III-Tubulin (green) and the ALS-implicated protein TDP-43 (magenta). In this study, the authors determined that TDP-43 sustains normal levels of the microtubule destabilizing protein STMN2, which helps neurons grow and regenerate axons. Credit: Joseph Klim

Researchers at Harvard University say they have found what could be a biomarker that could lead to a new treatment therapy for victims of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain and causes severe muscle degeneration over time.

The Harvard team found that the protein TDP-43 — which has been known to be linked to ALS for the last decade — regulates the gene STMN2, which could serve as the first biomarker and potential source of treatment therapy.

“Once we had a connection between the TDP-43 and the loss of this other critical gene, STMN2, we could see how a motor neuron might begin to fail in ALS,” said researcher Joseph Klim.

About ALS

There are about 33,000 Americans with ALS. Becky Kidd of Atlanta is one of them. In 2017 she talked to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention about what it’s like to live with ALS.


About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.