A team of researchers led by Socrates Tzartos from the Hellenic Pasteur Institute in Athens, Greece have identified antibodies to an important neuromuscular protein in the serum of twenty percent of ALS patients. The protein, called LDL receptor-related protein 4 (LRP4), is a transmembrane protein that is important in development and function of the neuromuscular junction. First author John Tzartos found that, in vitro, antibodies to LRP4 reduce neuronal survival and synaptic function, suggesting that the anti-LRP4 antibodies may be contributing to the pathophysiology of ALS in patients. These initial findings require further confirmation in a larger cohort with more diverse control groups, including ‘ALS mimic’ diseases, but if confirmed, would support LRP4 as a potential biomarker for identifying this ALS patient subgroup that could enable early detection and therapeutic intervention. These findings were reported at the 2015 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in April.
Click here to read the full report.