Moeller to study neuroinflammation in Lou Gehrig's disease
The role of neuroinflammation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is the target of a newly funded research project at the UW. The project will be led by Thomas Moeller, research assistant professor of neurology, and funded by a two-year, $160,000 grant from the ALS Association.
Moeller studies microglial cells, which are immune cells in the central nervous system. The activation of those cells, an early sign of ALS, causes the release of both toxic and protective substances. Microglial cells are thought to be an important part of the progression of the neurodegenerative disease.
Some forms of ALS have been linked to a mutation in the SOD1 gene. In transgenic mice with the mutation, microglial cells seem to have an increased toxicity. Moeller will use mice with the mutation to further examine the role of microglial cells in disease progression, and try to learn whether the cells cause motor neuron degeneration.
The ALS Association is the only not-for-profit organization that focuses entirely on ALS. The California-based group supports research efforts, patient services and advocacy, and public education. The Evergreen Chapter of the ALS Association is based in Kent, Wash.