ALS Canada-Brain Canada funded research delays the onset of ALS symptoms in mice models

Within the brain, neurons are constantly communicating with each other. These communications can be inhibitory or excitatory, essentially like a stop or go signal. For our brains to function properly we need to have a balance between these two signals. Having too much of the excitatory, or “go” signal, has been linked to a variety of disorders, including ALS.

As a result of Canadians’ generosity during the Ice Bucket Challenge, researchers at the University of Toronto have discovered that by specifically targeting motor neurons in the motor cortex of mice — a region of the brain that controls voluntary movement – they can correct the imbalance of the “go” signal and delay the onset of ALS symptoms. To do this, a virus was used to deliver engineered proteins, that were activated by a pharmaceutical drug, to the cortex of mice genetically altered to carry an ALS gene mutation (SOD1). The findings were recently published in Brain, a scientific journal, so that they can be shared more broadly with the research community.

Why is this discovery important? It’s a new area of research telling researchers that targeting the motor cortex to balance inhibitory and excitatory signals is worth studying further as a potential way to slow ALS progression in humans.

This work was supported through the ALS Canada Research Program, in partnership with Brain Canada (through the Canada Brain Research Fund, with support from Health Canada). It is because of the generosity of donors that the ALS Canada Research Program has been able to continue to invest in research discoveries that build the foundation to move us closer to a future without ALS. While the pace of research never seems fast enough, continued investment in the ALS Canada Research Program helps to accelerate research discovery and contribute to the development of potential ALS therapies. For more information on the study, you can read the full press release from the University of Toronto.

Because of you, the ALS Canada Research Program can continue to fuel the scientific discoveries that further our understanding of ALS. Your support makes a difference. Please consider making a donation to help create a future without ALS.



Posted in: Research