Short updates on ALS research: unwanted laughing/crying spells (pseudobulbar affect), blocking cell suicide, neural stem cells
Trial results announced for drug for laughing/crying jags
Episodes of unwanted, uncontrollable laughing or crying (known as "pseudobulbar affect" or PBA) in individuals with ALS or multiple sclerosis were significantly reduced in frequency and severity in a large-scale trial of an experimental drug being developed by Avanir Pharmaceuticals. Final results of this previously reported trial have now been published in Annals of Neurology. The trade name "Zenvia" is no longer being used by the company for this drug, which is referred to in the company's press release as AVP923.
For more about this research and pseudobulbar affect in general, see:
Blocking cell suicide
ALS mice genetically engineered to lack a cell suicide mechanism, known as the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway, developed ALS symptoms later and lived longer than ALS mice in which this mechanism remained intact, leading investigators to suggest that strategies to inhibit this pathway could be pursued as possible ALS treatments.
See: Blocking the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway preserves motor neuron viability and function in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Neural stem cells
Neuralstem has announced that its neural stem cells survived in rat brains affected by stroke, that most of them became nerve cells, and that the animals showed significant improvement in some measurements of motor skills and strength. Cells developed by Neuralstem with similar technology are being transplanted into ALS patients in a phase 1 trial at Emory University in Atlanta.