Study Raises Possibility of Immunotherapy Treatment for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

New research reveals that a type of monoclonal antibody already tested in certain forms of cancer may be a promising treatment in stopping the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a fatal neurodegenerative disease. The study, led by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), was published July 31, 2023 in PNAS. The open-access article is titled “Elevated α5 Integrin Expression on Myeloid Cells in Motor Areas in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Is a Therapeutic Target.” The study, involving a mouse model and confirmed in the tissue of human brains affected by ALS and donated after death, revealed for the first time that modulating immune cells can slow the progression of the disease. Previous research  had suggested a role for immune cells in ALS, but researchers this time used a high-throughput screening technique to identify a particular type of protein expressed on immune cells in the brain and spinal cord in people with ALS. Researchers implicated the protein, known as alpha-5 integrin.
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