Narrator: This is Science Today. A multi-center study led by University of California, San Diego researchers has found that ALS, a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, can either be damaged or saved from degeneration by neighboring non-neuronal cells. Lead author of the study, Don Cleveland, says in this case the neighborhood very much matters.
Cleveland: Mutant neurons, which one had originally predicted to be irrevocably targeted for toxicity, can be saved if they are surrounded by good, non-neuronal neighbors. And conversely, if you have a perfectly normal neuron finding itself in a bad neighborhood surrounded by mutant expressing non-neuronal cells, that neuron becomes damaged.
Narrator: These findings may have major implications in the future treatment of the disease.
Cleveland: The best news is in terms of therapeutic approaches, that one doesn't really need to limit therapies to direct them toward the neurons, because the toxicity isn't just the neurons – it's the surrounding cells, too.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.