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Leg Up
06 September 2015

Leg Up

Recently brought to the general public’s attention with an ice bucket challenge, ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is the most common form of motor neuron disease (MND), a condition in which the neurons controlling muscles around the body degenerate and die. This devastating disorder is as yet incurable, but research on a classic model organism, the fruit fly, could lead to significant advances. Focusing on the neurons of the fly’s leg (pictured), a team of researchers triggered neurodegeneration by increasing the occurrence of TDP-43, a protein known to be involved in the development of ALS. They then searched for mutant flies with reduced symptoms, and thus identified three genes which could act to mitigate the effects of TDP-43, and limit degeneration. Further research into these genes, and other clues provided by the fly model, could help develop new means of fighting ALS.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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