“The goal of my project is to study T cells in the blood of ALS patients and see if we can identify a destructive phenotype within these T cells, as compared to people who have not developed ALS. If we can pinpoint destructive T cells, this might be an avenue for potential therapy to slow or pause the progression of the disease.”
What if we can detect dangerous T cell responses in the blood of ALS patients?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, formerly Lou Gehrig’s disease) is an aggressive neurodegenerative disorder that proves fatal to thousands of individuals each year. The exact cause(s) of ALS is unclear, but we do know that several brain proteins have been found to be misfolded and neurotoxic within the brain and spinal cord. Currently, there are only two drugs approved for the treatment of ALS and unfortunately their benefits are very minimal. The exact mechanisms behind the disease are still unclear. One potentially promising area of research involves the role of the immune system in ALS. This SPARK project intends to answer key questions about how T cells may be contributing to ALS. These answers surrounding the immune system could prove critical in the design of immunotherapies in the treatment of ALS.