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Biomarkers for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Active Duty Military

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Annual rept. 23 Jan 2006-22 Jan 2007

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Following their service in the first Gulf War, veterans were faced with an increased incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ALS. Most recently, concern has been raised that military service per se could result in an elevated risk for ALS. ALS is a rapidly progressing, invariably fatal neurodegenerative disease, and despite exhaustive studies, the possible genetic or environmental causes remain largely unknown. Early symptoms of the disease are often similar to those of other, less severe neurodegenerative diseases, which can complicate and delay the diagnosis. No validated clinically relevant biomarkers exist to assist the physician in a more precise diagnosis of the disease. No therapies exist to cure the disease, and the mean time of survival after diagnosis of ALS is 4-5 years. In light of this problem, there is a pressing need for the identification of new ALS biomarkers that allow an early, specific diagnosis and that have the potential for the development of future therapies. This study compares serum samples from individuals diagnosed with ALS to serum samples from matched individuals who did not develop ALS. The authors aim to identify candidate serum biomarkers that are unique for ALS and a subset of diagnostic serum biomarkers for early detection of ALS prior to the appearance of overt symptoms. The significance of a positive identification of protein biomarkers for ALS is indisputably great. However, to date no validated clinically relevant biomarkers have been found to allow a more specific diagnosis of ALS at an earlier stage. Previous efforts to identify ALS associated biomarkers have often focused on the identification of genes and proteins characteristic for familial ALS, yet validated biomarkers for sporadic ALS, which accounts for as much as 90-95 of all ALS cases, have yet to be identified. Subjects will be identified through the National Registry of Veterans with ALS serum samples will be obtained from the DoD Serum Registry.

Subject Categories:

  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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