Findings point toward one of first therapies for Lou Gehrig’s disease

English: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis MRI (axial FLAIR) demonstrates increased T2 signal within the posterior part of the internal capsule, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of ALS source:Radiopedia.org (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis MRI (axial FLAIR) demonstrates increased T2 signal within the posterior part of the internal capsule, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of ALS source:Radiopedia.org (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Researchers have determined that a copper compound known for decades may form the basis for a therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In a new study just published in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists from Australia, the United States (Oregon), and the United Kingdom showed in laboratory animal tests that oral intake of this compound significantly extended the lifespan and improved the locomotor function of transgenic mice that are genetically engineered to develop this debilitating and terminal disease.

In humans, no therapy for ALS has ever been discovered that could extend lifespan more than a few additional months. Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University say this approach has the potential to change that, and may have value against Parkinson’s disease as well.

“We believe that with further improvements, and following necessary human clinical trials for safety and efficacy, this could provide a valuable new therapy for ALS and perhaps Parkinson’s disease,” said Joseph Beckman, a distinguished professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science.

“I’m very optimistic,” said Beckman, who received the 2012 Discovery Award from the OHSU Medical Research Foundation as the leading medical researcher in Oregon.

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