According to a story from Trinity News, a team of researchers with the Academic Unit of Neurology at Trinity College Dublin have recently conducted a study that maps the ways in which various neural networks in the brain are altered in patients with motor neurone disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The researchers used an approach called electroencephalography (EEG) in order to capture subtle changes that affect electrical signaling.
About Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare, degenerative disease that causes the death of nerve cells associated with the voluntary muscles. Little is known about the origins of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with no definitive cause in about 95 percent of cases. The remaining five percent appear to inherit the disease from their parents. Symptoms initially include loss of coordination, muscle weakness and atrophy, muscle stiffness and cramping, and trouble speaking, breathing, or swallowing. These symptoms worsen steadily over time; most patients die because of respiratory complications. Treatment is mostly symptomatic and the medication riluzole can prolong life. Life expectancy after diagnosis ranges from two to four years, but some patients can survive for substantially longer. To learn more about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, click here.
The scientists are hoping that the observations from this study will aid in the development of new therapies for the disease. The team was able to observe unusual behavior in certain groups of nerves. A total of six different neuron networks in the brain were evaluated so far. These evaluations have revealed never before seen abnormalities that are revealing more information about the mechanism of action in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The data will also help scientists identify different sub-variants of the disease and even predict how a patient could respond to treatment.
There is no doubt that there is a great need for new therapeutic options for this disease that can have a meaningful impact on overall survival and disease progression. The discovery of new biomarkers will be a major step in this process.