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New marker of ALS outcome identified
A study by Human Brain Project (HBP) researchers has identified a new marker for predicting the clinical outcome of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) through magnetoencephalography. This marker can be measured in the brain during its resting state and highlights the importance of brain flexibility for ALS patients.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord that causes loss of muscle control. The ability of moving, speaking and, eventually, breathing is progressively impaired. There is no known cure but treatments to improve symptoms, including magnetic stimulation, are being tested.
The researchers collected magnetoencephalography data on 42 ALS patients and 42 healthy controls at the University Parthenope in Naples, whose MEG facilities have recently become part of EBRAINS - a digital research infrastructure developed as part of the HBP. The new study builds on previous work by the same group, which applied the methodology to Parkinson's disease.
"The neuronal avalanches spread in patterns which we can monitor with whole-brain scans," explains Arianna Polverino ,lead author of the study. "We call the collection of all unique patterns the 'functional repertoire', a measurement of the flexibility of the brain." The researchers focused on quantifying the functional repertoire of ALS brains, even when the patient is unprompted and the brain is in a resting state. "We found that a restriction of the functional repertoire corresponded to a more severe functional impairment. The more flexible the brain, the better the clinical outcome: the functional repertoire can be used as a reliable predictor of how the clinical outlook of a patient will likely evolve."
Flexibility of Fast Brain Dynamics and Disease Severity in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,Neurology,DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000201200
B.Sc Life Sciences, M.Sc Biotechnology, B.Ed
Isra Zaman is a Life Science graduate from Daulat Ram College, Delhi University, and a postgraduate in Biotechnology from Amity University. She has a flair for writing, and her roles at Medicaldialogues include that of a Sr. content writer and a medical correspondent. Her news pieces cover recent discoveries and updates from the health and medicine sector. She can be reached at email@example.com.