Researchers from HUN and Navarrabiomed identify two proteins to improve the diagnosis of ALS

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Researchers from HUN and Navarrabiomed identify two proteins to improve the diagnosis of ALS

  • Tomorrow marks World ALS Day, a disease that currently affects about 50 people in Navarra.

The University Hospital of Navarra (HUN) and the biomedical research center Navarrabiomed have identified two proteins, namely sTREM2 and pTDP43, as potential blood biomarkers that will improve the diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The results, stemming from the collaboration between both centers since 2013 to investigate this disease, have recently been published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

ALS is a degenerative disease of the motor neurons, which control voluntary muscle movement, and primarily affects adults. This Wednesday commemorates the World Day for this condition, which currently affects about 50 people in Navarra.

The study, which was made possible by funding from the “la Caixa” Foundation, the Luzón Foundation, and the Navarra ALS Association (ANELA), involved professionals from the Motor Neuron Diseases Research Group at HUN, led by Dr. Ivonne Jericó Pascual, and the NeuroEpigenetics Unit at Navarrabiomed, led by Dr. Maite Mendioroz Iriarte.

The research has been carried out with the voluntary participation of patients and healthy individuals recruited by the Multidisciplinary Motor Neuron Unit at HUN. Post-mortem neurological tissue samples from the Navarrabiomed Biobank, from individuals who granted consent during their lifetime to support research, have also been incorporated.

Research Details  

Neuroinflammation, or inflammation of the nervous system, is implicated in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. In this context, the HUN and Navarrabiomed team has identified TREM2 as one of the key genes involved in this process. Specifically, they have identified a significant increase in TREM2 expression in the spinal cord. They have also observed an increase in the soluble fraction of this protein (sTREM2) in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood of ALS patients.

Since TREM2 is a nonspecific marker for neuroinflammation, and not specifically for ALS, the team has also analyzed the levels of the protein pTDP43, one of the main neuronal markers directly associated with ALS.

Dr. Jericó emphasizes the relevance of the research: “The relationship between pTDP43 and sTREM2 allows us to identify the molecular fingerprints of ALS in each patient, which is promising for advancing towards new therapeutic targets. In fact, clinical trials with patients are already underway in other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, to modify the action of TREM2.”

Photo: Researchers Maite Mendioroz and Ivonne Jericó at Navarrabiomed.

La investigadoras Maite Mendioroz e Ivonne Jericó en Navarrabiomed.
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