Study: Genetic Signature Determines Age of Onset for ALS

A recent study published in Neurobiology of Aging reports that a genetic signature in a region on chromosome 1 influences the age at which someone develops amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In fact, someone with this genetic signature might develop ALS approximately 2.5 years earlier than those without it.

ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose control of muscle movement, often resulting in paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis.

"There are many pathways that lead to ALS, and this new discovery suggests that there may be common factors to all of these pathways, which may enable researchers to develop new treatments that help slow or stop the disease," said Dr. Lucie Bruijn, chief scientist for The ALS Association.

The study examined DNA from more than 4,000 patients with ALS as well as 5,000 control subjects of Caucasian origin.

This new research was conducted by The International Consortium on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Genetics (ALSGEN) and analyzed by Dr. Carl Langefeld, of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. The study was funded by The ALS Association.