Dr. Robert Brown and his group at the University of Massachusetts have teamed up with researchers in London and Belgium to identify a gene whose normally occurring variations appear to determine the susceptibility to sporadic (non-familial) MND.
The gene, elongation protein 3 (ELP3), is a gene that influences RNA metabolism. RNA is the messenger molecule communicating the coded blueprint hidden in DNA and aids in the production of functional proteins.
Dr Brown's group are excited by the findings, and are busy testing the effects of this gene on different cell types and in mice. "In the longer term, our goal as always is to determine how we can use this information to develop treatments for MND" says Dr Brown. The findings have been published in Human Molecular Genetics in an article titled "Variants of the elongator protein 3 (ELP3) gene are associated with motor neuron degeneration".
Source: International MND research update – March 2009, Dr Justin Yerbury for MNDRIA