By isolating cells from patients’ spinal tissue within a few days after death, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed a new model of the paralyzing disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They found that during the disease, cells called astrocytes become toxic to nerve cells — a result previously found in animal models but not in humans. The new model could be used to investigate many more questions about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Neurofibromatosis (NF) encompasses a set of genetic disorders that cause benign and malignant tumors to grow along various types of nerves; it can also affect the development of bones and skin. There are three main types of NF tumors: neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) and schwannomatosis. NF1 is the most frequent of the three; one in every 3,000 children is born with the disease.
The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) is the leading non-governmental funder of scientific research into neurofibromatosis and has funded NF studies for over 25 years. Their goal is to identify NF drug therapies and improve the lives of those living with the disorder. The Foundation also endeavors to increase public awareness of NF and provides resources for NF patients and their families.
The 2008 NF Conference was held last weekend (June 6 — 10) in Bonita Springs, Florida. The preeminent annual meeting provides a forum for basic and clinical neurofibromatosis (NF) investigators to present their research (pronounced noor-oh-fahy-broh-muh-toh-sis). The conference was attended by over 200 researchers from around the world
This year’s theme — Genes to Complications to Treatments — highlighted the progress being made in NF research and clinical care, as well as the research programs of the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Last year’s NF Conference focused on models, mechanisms and therapeutic targets.