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ALS model to progress motor neurone disease research?

ALS model to progress motor neurone disease research?
12th August 2011

Researchers have developed a new model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, which they believe could lead to progress in the field.

In the study, published in journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers found that during the disease, cells known as astrocytes become toxic to nerve cells.

Researchers took astrocytes from ALS patients and found that the cells secrete toxic factors which cause the nerve cells to degenerate - a result also seen in animal models of the condition.

Senior author Dr Brian Kaspar said: "We still need to confront fundamental questions about what is happening to astrocytes and how they are killing motor neurons. And the ultimate goal is to identify therapies that will translate into helping humans."

This follows research from the Massachusetts General Hospital which found that mildly obese ALS patients lived longer than those of a normal weight, underweight or overweight.

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