Dr. Veronique Belzil, an associate professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Florida, recently discovered "new ALS genes and disease pathways" that can help in the creation of treatments for the disease, the ALS Association reported on its blog.
Belzil teaches in the Department of Neuroscience and specializes in sporadic ALS, the form of the disease that is the most common and is not inherited genetically. Belzil, who received the ALS Association Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2014, had her research published in the Acta Neuropathologica journal, the ALS Association blog said.
"We were able to identify new genes contributing to disease, like SERPINA1, that can potentially be targeted by therapeutics," she said in the blog regarding her ALS research findings. "We also identified novel cellular functions that are perturbed in ALS, which can be further explored by other research groups to develop therapies."
Belzil said that because there are so many aspects of ALS that have yet to be explored, she intends to do more research to get a better understanding of the disease.
"Dr. (Mark) Ebbert (of the Mayo Clinic) and I are planning to characterize the key players we identified to better understand how these changes affect the brain circuitry in ALS patients," Belzil said in the blog. "In other words, we will determine how regulatory changes in a few genes lead to dysfunction of other genes and consequently disrupt normal biological processes essential for brain cell health."