ALS: Italian Technology Institute identified a possible cause for disease development
The formation of noxious aggregates inside motoneurons in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is reportedly associated with a specific protein which seems to make cellular structures more rigid and viscous.
This important discovery, which sheds new light on the still unknown causes of nervous cell degeneration in patients with ALS, was made by a team of Italian researchers coordinated by Giuseppe Antonacci from the Center for Life Nano Science of the IIT-Italian Technology Institute of the Sapienza University of Rome.
This success was possible thanks to the development, at Sapienza IIT, of a new technique of optical microscopy with very high contrast that can measure the mechanical properties of intracellular structures much smaller than visible ones. This technique allowed researchers to observe, for the first time, that intracellular structures look altered when a specific protein, directly associated with ALS, is expressed inside them; this protein is called FUS.
“This discovery, made thanks to the development of our spectrum imaging technology, paves the way to important scenarios in ALS research – said Giuseppe Antonacci, coordinator of the IIT-Sapienza team – since it provides crucial information on the pathological mechanisms which lead to the death of motoneurons”. The study, published in the journal Communications Biology, contributes to the development of new diagnostic tools and provides crucial information for understanding and developing new therapeutic strategies against ALS.
“The technology that we have developed in Rome will help study, from a different perspective, cellular granules that seem to play a key role in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases – concluded Alessandro Rosa from the Sapienza University of Rome – and this is the first step to schedule more targeted therapies against this disease”.