Researchers: Copper Treatments Stopped ALS Progression in Mice
Oregon State University researchers in Corvalis,
Ore., have reported that they stopped amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
(ALS) from progressing in a study using mice.
The study was so successful, they added, that the disease had
been halted for nearly two years and had enabled the mice to
“approach their normal lifespan.”
Results of the study were published in Neurobiology of Disease.
The study involved using a compound called Copper-ATSM
“that helps deliver copper specifically to cells with damaged mitochondria,
and reaches the spinal cord, where it’s needed to treat
ALS,” a Jan. 28 news announcement said.
Advantages of the Copper-ATSM compound include its low
toxicity and its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier easily.
Researchers added that the compound is already used at lower
doses in other human medications, and that laboratory animals
tolerated higher doses of Copper-ATSM well.
“Any copper not needed after use of Copper-ATSM,” the
news announcement said, “is quickly flushed out of the body.”
Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia;
University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas; University of Central
Florida, Orlando; and the Pasteur Institute of Montevideo,
Uruguay, also worked on the study.
In one study, mice that received the Copper-ATSM treatment
had survived for more than 650 days. Without that treatment,
the mice would have been expected to die within about two
weeks. Some of the mice were initially given the copper treatment,
but then the treatment was stopped. Those mice went on
to develop ALS symptoms within two months, and then they
died shortly thereafter.
Joseph Beckman, the study’s lead author and professor of
biochemistry and biophysics, College of Science, Oregon State
University, said of the findings, “We are shocked at how well this
treatment can stop the progression of ALS.”
But researchers warned that taking copper as a nutritional
supplement would not affect ALS, and that copper can be toxic
even in moderate doses.