Hyderabad, Feb 5: Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IIT H) have found a molecule called ‘AIM4’ that shows promise in the treatment of a rare and debilitating neurodegenerative disease ‘Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis’ (ALS), also known as ‘Lou Gehrig's disease.’
ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that severely affects voluntary movement of muscles and can lead to paralysis and death.
It occurs due to changes in specific genes, which may be triggered by factors such as smoking, exposure to toxins, metals and pesticides, the Institute said in a release here on Wednesday. The research was performed by a team lead by Dr. Basant Kumar Patel, Dr. Sandeep Singh and Dr. Rajakumara Eerappa, faculty from the Department of Biotechnology, IIT H, and Prof. Ganesan Prabushankar, Department of Chemistry, IIT H and it has recently been published in the reputed peer-reviewed International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.
The paper has been co-authored by these Scientists along with Research Scholars - Mr. Amandeep Girdhar, Ms. Vidhya Bharathi, Mr. Vikas Ramyagya Tiwari, Mr. Suman Abhishek, Ms. Waghela Deeksha, Ms. Usha Saraswat Mahawar, and Mr. Gembali Raju. There are no drugs available at present to cure ALS and treatment options are limited to two drugs only for management of the condition.
Research is ongoing throughout the world to find better drugs that can arrest this disorder and not merely manage the symptoms. Such research must first identify the causes for the onset of ALS, the release said. Elaborating on this research, Dr. Basant Kumar said, “One of the causes of ALS is the alterations in the genes that code for a critical protein called TDP-43. The gene alteration modifies the protein, which results in its liquid-liquid phase separation. This phase separation in turn causes the proteins to be deposited on nerve cells, resulting in neurodegeneration.”
The ‘ice bucket challenge,’ which went viral in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2014, created awareness about this disease among people. The disease is relatively unknown in India although Indians seem to have an earlier onset of this malady compared to people of the West and show longer lasting symptoms and disease progression. (UNI)