Stuart Millheiser Investigates a Promising New Biomarker and Therapeutic Target for Those with ALS

July 24, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

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MIAMI, July 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Stuart Millheiser founded ALS Guardian Angels, a charity with a mission to improve the well-being of ALS patients by providing financial and emotional support. According to Stu Millheiser, new data reveals a link between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the LDL receptor-related protein 4, or LRP4. This insight could be the first step toward an effective LRP4-targetting therapy for ALS.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that is progressive in nature. It causes gradual atrophy and degeneration of specific motor neurons, which are responsible for controlling voluntary movements such as eating, breathing and speaking.

ALS paralyzes its victims, and the majority of sufferers die from respiratory failure within five years of diagnosis. There is currently no cure for ALS; however, the recently discovered link between LRP4 and ALS offers hope for the thousands who desperately need a treatment for this debilitating disease.

LRP4 is an important protein for neuromuscular function. It assists with the development of motor neurons in the spine and brain.

Researchers have previously noticed autoantibodies against LRP4 in roughly 3 percent of myasthenia gravis patients. MG is a medical condition that causes neuromuscular dysfunction. In a recent study, researchers tested 191 ALS patients for LRP4 antibodies.

The scientists found LRP4 autoantibodies in 19.4 percent of participating ALS patients, which is a significantly higher percentage than what was found in MG patients. The team also discovered that the LRP4 antibodies were able to survive for more than 10 months in the body. However, they did not find any differences in clinical patterns between patients with LRP4 antibodies and those without.

The study revealed that approximately 1 in 5 ALS sufferers have antibodies against LRP4. The researchers believe that these autoantibodies contribute to the neurological problems and pathogenesis linked to ALS. They suggest that LRP4 antibodies are helpful biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for ALS treatments.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a heterogeneous condition in regard to pathogenicity and clinical phenotype. As a result, identifying specific biomarkers may allow subgrouping of ALS sufferers, which could set the foundation for early intervention and patient-specific therapies.

The research team's leader explained that the LRP4 autoantibodies might be pathogenic in a subgroup of ALS patients. So far, immunosuppressive therapies have been ineffective for ALS; however, concentrating efforts within a subgroup of sufferers in the early stages of the disease will allow scientists to uncover the effect of immunosuppression in that subgroup. Further tests will be necessary to see how effective LRP4-targeting therapies could be for people with ALS.

Stuart Millheiser is the founder of ALS Guardian Angels. Millheiser founded ALS Guardian Angels in 2007 to help patients that are suffering from ALS, formerly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Millheiser has helped hundreds of people with ALS by providing everything from medical equipment to support for basic living expenses.

Millheiser has been referred to as "a true angel on earth" for his charitable work. He feels a sense of accomplishment by helping those in need. After the viral spreading of the ice bucket challenge during the summer of 2014, Millheiser is hopeful that more people will continue to become aware of ALS and support this truly important cause.

Media Contact: Stuart Millheiser, ALS Guardian Angels, 949-488-9894, info@alsguardianangels.com

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SOURCE ALS Guardian Angels



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