Mutant Gene Linked to Motor Neuron Disease

LONDON, April 12 (UPI) — British scientists say they’ve found a fifth genetic mutation linked to motor neuron disease that has similar pathological effects of other genetic mutations.

The researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry of London said they hope their discovery will lead to new avenues of treatment for the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The scientists said the disease causes progressive degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons that leads weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

The researchers said their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide strong further genetic evidence that the disease is caused by proteins clumping together in motor neurons, which are the cells that help to control the movement of muscles.

Imperial College London Professor Jackie de Belleroche, the lead author of the study, said there is currently no cure for the fatal disease.

“Our finding is one valuable piece in the puzzle to show what’s happening with the disease,” Belleroche said. “Unfortunately we’re a long way from finding a cure for MND, but it’s only through understanding how MND works that we’ll be able to find new ways to treat it.”

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