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Connection found between Lou Gehrig’s disease and intestinal bacteria

Scientists at Harvard University in a study concluded that intestinal bacteria affect the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is expected that the results of these experiments may play a key role in the treatment of this ailment. This is reported by the New Atlas online media.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a progressive incurable degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The disease affects both the upper (motor cortex) and lower (anterior horns and nuclei of cranial nerves) motor neurons. ALS leads to paralysis followed by muscle atrophy. The disease progresses rapidly and leads to death within 2−3 years. Currently, the disease is considered incurable.

During the study, a connection between ALS and intestinal microbiome was found. The experiments were performed on genetically identical mice in which the symptom of Lou Gehrig’s disease was caused by a mutation in C9orf72 gene. It is this gene that in most cases contributes to the inheritance of ALS.

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It was found that the mice with identical C9orf72 mutations showed different state of health. The determinant factor was intestinal microbiome. Some reached the old age, others got ALS and could not be saved in the end.

“Our study was focused on the most frequently mutated gene in ALS patients”, commented Kevin Eggan, the new study correspondent and Stem Cells Research and Regenerative Biology professor at Harvard, for New Atlas. “We made a remarkable discovery that the same mouse model with identical genetics had significantly different health outcomes in different laboratories”.



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