The way in which the most common genetic abnormality in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) kills neurons has been discovered by researchers.
Researchers have also successfully developed a therapeutic strategy to block this neurodegeneration in neurons made from the skin cells of ALS patients. The findings, which are published online in the October 16th issue of the Cell Press journal Neuron, have important implications for treating patients with these debilitating, currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases.
The most common genetic mutation in ALS and FTD is an abnormal repeated expansion of the coding sequence within a gene, C9ORF72, with unknown function. This mutation has been found in at least 8% of sporadic ALS and FTD cases and more than 40% of hereditary ALS and FTD cases.