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C. It's the Neighborhood that Matters in ALS

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.