Top Northwestern University ALS Research Breakthroughs

If you haven’t heard about the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” yet, you soon will. The challenge asks individuals to video tape themselves getting an ice-cold bucket of water dumped over their head and nominate their friends to do so as well in order to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Watch a video of Northwestern Medicine faculty and staff who have accepted the challenge.

If you aren’t up for dumping ice-cold water over your head, there’s also the option to donate to the ALS foundation. Thanks to the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” Northwestern’s Les Turner ALS Foundation donations have increased significantly compared to this time last year. Money donated to this important cause makes it possible for Northwestern University and many other institutions to research ALS and work towards finding a cure for the disease.

After you’ve completed the challenge, you might curious to know exactly what Northwestern is doing towards finding an ALS cure. In fact, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has made many research breakthroughs in this field in recent years. Here are some of Northwestern’s top ALS research discoveries:

 1. Neon Exposes Hidden ALS Cells, Helps Scientists Study Why They Die

Hande Ozdinler, PhD, assistant professor of neurology and her team are now able to study a small group of elusive neurons in the brain’s cortex that play a big role in ALS disease. Ozdinler and her team dressed the neurons in a fluorescent green jacket, making them easy to locate and study.

 2. Researchers Discover Common Cause of all Forms of ALS 

 A Northwestern Medicine researcher team led by Teepu Siddique, MD, identified a common cause of all forms of ALS.

 3. New 'Culprit' Found in Lou Gehrig's Disease

Findings from Teepu Siddique, MD and his team of researchers further broadened the understanding of why cells in the brain and spinal cord degenerate in the fatal disease.

4. Researchers Discover Genetic Link Between Both Types of ALS

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine discovered a link between sporadic and familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

5. Animal Model Developed by Feinberg Researchers Holds Potential to Unlock Therapeutic Advances for ALS

Jane Wu, MD, PhD, and researchers in her lab constructed a powerful transgenic animal model to unlock therapeutic advances for ALS patients.