Findings suggest that 34 possible gene changes may be linked to ALS.

Scientists report they have found 34 possible gene changes that may be linked to ALS.

Clues gathered by the scientists at the NINDS, NIA, and the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, and in Italy, are reportedly the first from a collaborative genomic study of sporadic or spontaneously arising ALS.

The team searched the genes of 276 sporadic ALS patients and an equal number of neurologically normal people. Gene finder chips report that one spelling of a gene sequence is more or less common in people with the disease compared to people without it. Variation in a gene may lead to increased risk for disease or may produce no functional change.

A few known mutations produce a few percent of ALS cases, those passed in families. For the vast majority of ALS that is not inherited, no single gene change emerged from the genome-wide search. “There is no single gene out there, which causes most of sporadic ALS,” notes Bryan Traynor, M.D., who led the study. “But, we now have many leads to follow up in collaboration with our Italian colleagues.”

The research was funded in part by The ALS Association and was published in Lancet Neurology.

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