Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a neurodegenerative disorder which is fatal. It is a disease that has been known and diagnosed for over a hundred years, but in all that time we’ve made depressingly little progress in successfully treating it. But now OSU scientists have announced what could be a sea change in the fight against the terrible disease.
Dr. Joseph Beckman’s team has found that they can stop the progression of ALS in mice for upwards of two years. Beckman is a professor of biophysics and biochemistry at OSU, and his team just announced the results of their experiments, publishing them in the journal Neurobiology of Disease.
“We are shocked at how well this treatment can stop the progression of ALS,” said Beckman in a press release.
The treatment involves using Copper-ATSM, a compound used to get copper to cells with damaged mitochondria, which can get to the spinal cord to fight the ALS. The team is trying to manage expectations and excitement which are sky high, as people afflicted with ALS don’t have a generally good or long prognosis. But hopes are high, and this may be a huge step in a long and sometimes hopeless battle.
The treatment was even so successful that when it was suspended, and the disease resumed its advance on the mice, and then the drug was reintroduced, it still showed gains against the disease. This is a major development for any treatment.
Human testing is the huge next step in what could be a huge major advancement for humankind. But there are other possible benefits, for diseases such as Parkinson’s, which make the step to human testing even more imminently exciting.
“We have a solid understanding of why the treatment works in the mice, and we predict it should work in both familial and possibly sporadic human patients,” Beckman said in the press release, continuing, “but we won’t know until we try.”
By Sidney Reilly