Junjie Guo, assistant professor of neuroscience, has been awarded a grant of $297,678 from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
The association funds cutting-edge research exploring treatments and cures for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Guo’s team aims at understanding the mechanisms through which clumps of RNAs with repetitive sequences, known as RNA foci, may form in nerve cells and become toxic.
“RNA foci are a common pathological hallmark not only in the most common type of familial ALS, but also in dozens of other neurological diseases. Yet how they form in cells and, more importantly, how they may impact cellular functions are poorly understood,” says Guo. Novel treatments or prevention strategy could emerge once their dynamics are better understood, he notes.
The funding is part of a broad $2 million portfolio into research investigating different approaches of treating ALS. The announcement was made ahead of ALS Awareness month in May, and builds upon the $165 million that the MDA has already committed to ALS research.