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Identification of circulating non-coding RNAs with diagnostic relevance in ALS patients using a unique extracellular vesicle capture method

Principal Investigator:
  • Pier Jr Morin, Université de Moncton
  • ALS Society of Canada

Project Overview

Earlier diagnosis of ALS remains one of the biggest goals of researchers worldwide and it is likely that the effectiveness of future treatment discoveries will be magnified by their application at a time point closer to symptom onset. To date, achieving a definitive diagnosis of ALS often remains a slow process, via exclusion of other conditions. In a unique effort to tackle the issue of earlier diagnosis, a team of six researchers in Moncton and Fredricton, led by Dr. Pier Jr Morin of the Université de Moncton, will examine the ability of a new technique to capture and study substances called microRNAs (miRNAs) in blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF – fluid that bathes the spinal cord). The technique is designed to pull tiny, bubble-like compartments called extracellular vesicles out of body fluids. These EVs contain miRNA, which the authors hope will form a specific signature for ALS when identified using state-of-the-art instruments and compared to individuals without the disease. If true, physicians could theoretically take blood or CSF samples upon first presentation of ALS symptoms to assist in providing a diagnosis. Ultimately, these kinds of studies provide hope of someday diagnosing individuals even before symptoms begin such that future treatment options could potentially prevent the disease symptoms from ever appearing.