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Two types of ALS have different causes

By May 15, 2007

ALS attacks the nerve cells (motor neurons) that control musclesAmyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) is either inherited (about 5 percent of cases) or occurs in a person with no family history of the disease (sporadic form). It has been assumed that these two forms of ALS have a similar cause. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that's not the case. The inherited form is associated with abnormal SOD-1 proteins, but the sporadic form is associated with abnormal TDP-43 proteins. The researchers point out that if drug treatments and research studies only focus on SOD-1 proteins this will not benefit people with the sporadic form of ALS. The research was published online April 27, 2007, in Annals of Neurology.

Source: Mackenzie, Ian, et al. "Pathological TDP-43 distinguishes sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with SOD1 mutations." Annals of Neurology 68(2007): 427-434.

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