Mount Sinai scientists have identified biological markers present in childhood that relate to the degenerative and often fatal neurological disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to a study published online on May 21, 2020 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology in May (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/acn3.51006). The open-acccess article is titled "Early Life Metal Dysregulation in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis." The researchers found the markers in the teeth of patients who went on to develop ALS as adults. They used lasers to map growth rings that form daily in the teeth and discovered evidence in the growth rings formed at birth and within the first 10 years of life that patients with ALS metabolized metals differently than patients without the disease. ALS is a condition that usually manifests when someone is in his/her 50s or 60s. The cause is not known, and there is no test to predict its onset. Genetic studies have not revealed a great deal yet, and while experts believe environmental factors play a significant role in the development of the disease, there have been no clear indications of which ones. “This is the first study to show a clear signature at birth and within the first decade of life, well before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease,” said senior author Manish Arora, BDS, MPH, PhD, Edith J. Baerwald Professor and Vice Chair of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We hope in the long term, after validation of this work in larger studies, that this will lead to preventive strategies.
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