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 A Worm's Word

Novel imaging and behaviour quantification system could have a widespread impact on finding treatments for ALS and a range of genetic diseases

16 December 2021

A Worm's Word

First symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) include limb weakness and loss of muscle control, worsening as death of brain and nervous system cells progresses. It’s the most common form of motor neuron disease, with an estimated 1,700 people in the UK being diagnosed annually, and has a life expectancy of two to five years. Here, innovative imaging and behaviour quantification techniques are being used to study the molecular mechanisms of ALS in a worm model bearing a gene mutation like that underlying a form of the human disease. Compared to control worms (top) proteins implicated in ALS accumulate in the worm model (red, lower panel). Observing neurodegeneration and locomotor defects in these worms allows comparison with ALS observations in humans. Translating this research into the clinic could provide novel treatments for ALS patients and generating other such worm models could also help unpick the complex molecular basis for a myriad of rare genetic diseases. 

Research in collaboration with the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences' Behavioural Phenomics group

Written by Daniella Gimbosh

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