Scientists discover protein behind motor neurone disease

Scientists say they have made a breakthrough in understanding the cause of both motor neurone disease and a rare form of dementia. They have discovered that a protein called FUS causes brain cells to die in both conditions. The researchers were cautiously optimistic their findings could one day to lead to improved treatments.
The study is published in the journal Cell. Motor neurone disease (MND), also known as ALS, is a progressive and terminal disease that damages the function of nerves and muscles, resulting in severe damage to the brain and spinal cord. It affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time.
Frontotemporal dementia is a form of dementia that causes changes in personality and behaviour, and language difficulties. Both conditions are caused by the death of brain cells and this study shows that a similar mechanism is involved in each.