Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive illness of the nervous system, which is called motor neurons. It is therefore important to understand that any medical treatment may be successful.
Because ALS is difficult to diagnose, there is no single medication that can confirm the disease. Doctors may also conduct diagnostic tests to distinguish between muscle weakness and upper and lower motor neuron symptoms. A diagnostic test that could confirm ALS would also assist individuals with a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Researchers outline preliminary research that might guide a future diagnostic of ALS in a paper published on May 23.
According to Hiroshima University professor, ALS is difficult to diagnose in early stages because there is no known biomarker. Among these is, the protein TDP-43), which is a protein that plays a significant role on motor neurons. TDP-4 is, therefore, a biomarker for the early diagnosis of ALS.
Previous experiments in mice have revealed a significant role of TDP-43 in axons, the part of the neuron that sends signals to other neurons. This is important for ALS, because axonal degeneration causes the lower motor neuron problems that can be a symptom of ALS. Researchers have assumed that TDP-43 accumulation in muscular nerve bundles might be an early predictor of ALS.
To test this theory, scientists studied the muscle tissue of ten individuals who had confirmed cases of ALS at the time of their death, and 12 who did not. All ten ALS patients had TDP-43 accumulations in their intramuscular nerve bundles, while 12 non-ALS controls had no TDP-43 accumulation.
Three patients with ALS were eventually diagnosed with a muscle biopsy and didn''t have a family history of ALS or another muscle or neuromuscular diagnosis. Among the 71 patients, axonal TDP-43 accumulations in their nerve bundles were discovered in 33. Among the 43 patients with ALS, three were later diagnosed with ALS.
According to Maruyama, the results of a dual case-control and cohort study suggest that axonal TDP-43 accumulations might be characteristic for ALS patients, and therefore may be a novel diagnostic biomarker for ALS. We are attempting to prevent the progression of ALS and will continue research into developing new medications.