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Nov 30, 2006

Scan of Human Genome Finds Unexpected New Clues on Lou Gehrig’s Disease

  • A comprehensive scan of the human genome has identified more than 50 genetic abnormalities in people with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) reported. TGen researchers say the identified differences implicate genes likely to play a role in cell function that controls nerve adhesion, offering a new avenue for ALS research.

    “Our findings indicate these genes produce a sort of molecular glue that attaches motor neurons to muscle,” explains Dietrich Stephan, TGen director of Neurogenomics. “It appears that in ALS the nerve is able to peel off the muscle and when that happens repeatedly, the nerves die.”

    TGen researchers identified the differences by screening DNA samples from over 1,200 people with and 2,000 people without sporadic ALS using microarray technology from Affymetrix.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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