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This podcast explores an exciting discovery with implications for all neurodegenerative diseases and it centers on inflammation prevention. While inflammation is a known player in autoimmune diseases, researchers like Seth Masters have identified an inflammatory element in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Listen and learn

  • Mechanisms of auto inflammatory diseases versus autoimmune,
  • The role of the innate immune system in causing disease, and
  • Why connecting inflammation with ALS offers significant hope for therapies to slow down disease progression for all neurodegenerative diseases.

Seth Masters is an associate professor with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. His lab work centered on auto inflammatory syndromes and diseases from the context of autoimmunity—when the body is fighting against itself.

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Then, as with many significant moments in science, they took a step back and looked at the larger picture: they examined all the knowledge they’d acquired and asked if there were any other diseases in which this might play a role. Neurodegenerative diseases of the brain stood front and center as a strong possibility. 

ALS is a particular form of neurodegenerative disease that’s struck well-known figures like Stephen Hawking. These patients’ muscles are not working because of damage impeding motor neuron function.

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Dr. Masters’ group found that these motor neurons are sensitive to inflammation and caused them to die. Therefore, if doctors can prevent or slow down this inflammation, it will have a significant effect in slowing down the disease progression. He says that they are in safety phase 1 trials for drugs that will block that inflammation.

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He explains methodology for testing these drugs as well as an interesting description of how they hope to eventually identify the inflammation trigger.

He tells listeners that may suffer from these diseases that there is “great hope” in what they’ve discovered and will make significant therapeutic strides. Listen in for more of this exciting news!

For more about his work, see his page on the institute’s website:

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