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Exercise plus gene therapy shows promise for treating Lou Gehrig's disease

COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study in mice gives hope that a combination of gene therapy and exercise may extend the lives of people who have Lou Gehrig's disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a chronic and progressive illness that leads to paralysis and ultimately death. There are no known cures, and the only FDA-approved method for treating the disease is a drug that may extend life between three and six months, said Brian Kaspar, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

In the study, some of the mice were treated with a combination of exercise and therapy with a gene known to help protect motor neurons.

"The combined therapy nearly doubled the lifespan of mice with ALS," said Kaspar.

Mice that had ALS but received no treatment lived an average of 120 days. However, mice that were allowed to exercise and also received gene therapy lived an average of 210 days. Healthy mice usually live for one or two years.

"Somehow, the two treatments complement each other and benefit the mouse," said Kaspar, who is also an investigator with the Center for Gene Therapy at Columbus Children's Research Institute.

He presented the work November 14 in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

In the current study, the researchers looked at the effects of exercise both with and without additional gene therapy treatment. A group of mice serving as a control had ALS but received no treatment.

The study also showed that mice with ALS benefited from exercise more if they began earlier in life. Some mice began exercise treatment (with no gene therapy) at 40 days of age, while other mice didn't start to exercise until 90 days of age.

The mice that started exercising when they were younger lived about a month longer than the control mice, while the mice that began exercising at 90 days of age lived an average of
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Contact: Brian Kaspar
Kasparb@ccri.net
614-722-5085
Ohio State University
14-Nov-2005


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