WMC 5 News showcases Dr. Mondira Kandu and her research efforts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Recently her team made a discovery that could lead to future ALS patient treatments. Known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, it is also known as motor neuron disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It can cause death of the neurons controlling voluntary muscles. ALS is the most common motor neuron disease in adults and the third most common neurodegenerative disease.
The St. Jude team uncovered a couple of enzymes (ULK 1 and ULK2) that could be triggered to treat muscle and brain disorders such as ALS, dementia and others. An inadvertent discovery, the team became excited upon recognizing the interactions that may represent a counteractive role in degenerative neurological diseases such as ALS. Apparently, ULK1 and ULK2 can “break down cell structures that kill muscle and brain cells.” Future research will involve the stimulation of these enzymes increase the life span or start to treat the general pathology. This is not a cure for ALS or other neurological diseases but represents a step in the right direction.