Researchers from the Flinders University, Australia and University of Miami have discovered a new protein that can act as a biomarker to track disease progression in people with MND. A paper written under the leadership of Dr Shepheard and Dr Rogers was published today in the research journal ‘Neurology’.
What is p75 and what do we know so far
The biomarker is a protein called p75, which initially
supports the growth of neurones during embryonic development and its levels markedly decrease after birth. Throughout our lives, p75 only reappears in higher levels when the body detects injury of the nervous system, and shows its presence in urine.
The researchers have previously shown that, after birth, mice with a mutation in the SOD1 gene, known to cause MND, had high levels of p75 after about 40 days from the onset of MND. This also coincided with increased levels of p75 in motor neurones found in tissue of people with MND after death.
We are pleased to announce that the first results from the Oxford Study for Biomarkers in MND/ALS (known as BioMOx) study have been published in the prestigious journal Neurology.
From this study, a common signature of nerve damage has been identified in the brains of people living with MND using an advanced MRI technique.
The findings demonstrate the importance of MRI in the development of a new biomarker for MND as well as being a significant stepping stone forwards toward two of our research goals – to identify disease markers, and to develop the research workforce.
MND Association’s Press Release
MND Association’s News in Research Article
Identifying disease markers
One of our research aims (set out in our research strategy 2010-2015) that we are working towards is that through our funding, we will have contributed to the identification of disease markers. By funding the BioMOx project (which is ongoing), we are already moving towards this aim.
Developing the research workforce
The BioMOx project is led by Dr Martin Turner from the University of Oxford who was awarded with the Medical Research Council (MRC)/ MND Association Lady Edith Wolfson Clinical Research Fellowship in 2008. This project is ongoing and means that we are not only funding cutting edge research, but we are also aiding Dr Martin Turner to develop his career as an MND clinician and a researcher.
As research is only as good as the researcher, it is important for us to continue to develop the UK basic research capacity by encouraging young clinicians into MND research. We currently fund four fellowships – our most recent of which was announced last month to Dr Pietro Fratta from the University of Sheffield.
Journal article reference: Filippini et al. Corpus callosum involvement is a consistent feature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Neurology November 2, 2010 75:1645-1652