Our “closer to a cure” segment will highlight research news and important milestones made by researchers as they work towards finding a cure for ALS.
While ALS is currently a disease with no cure and limited treatment options, the ALS Association continues to fund groundbreaking research to bring us closer to a cure. Last March, researchers from collaborative initiatives funded by The ALS Association, with money raised through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, announced the discovery of a new ALS gene- KIF5A.
You may have heard the news in the past year, but do you truly understand what the KIF5A gene is and why it’s important? If your answer is “no” that’s ok! That’s what we’re here for.
What is the KIF5A ALS Gene?
The KIF5A ALS gene was discovered through a unique collaborative effort of over 250 researchers, led by Dr. John Landers at University of Massachusetts Medical School and Dr. Bryan Traynor at the NIH. Researchers analyzed genetic data from over 101,000 samples to discover the KIF5A gene and it’s actually the fifth new ALS gene discovered since the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge.
KIF5A, or kinesin family member 5A, is a motor protein involved in the protein cargo transportation in cells. Kinesins play an important role in transporting along a motor neuron axon, which is crucial to motor neuron health. Mutations identified in KIF5A may cause disease by interrupting that axonal transport.
Why is the KIF5A ALS Gene Important?
Identifying common pathways leading to ALS is an important part of creating new treatments to slow or reverse the progression of ALS. The more we understand about the mechanics of the disease, the closer we get to finding a cure.
ALS is a disease that’s incurable for now, but with more research we have hope that a cure will be discovered.