Scientists discover signs of deadly neurological disease in teeth

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In a new study, researchers have identified biological markers that relate to the degenerative and often fatal neurological disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The researchers found the markers in the teeth of children patients who went on to develop ALS as adults.

They used lasers to map growth rings that form daily in the teeth and discovered evidence in the growth rings formed at birth and within the first 10 years of life than patients with ALS metabolized metals differently than patients without the disease.

The research was conducted by scientists from Mount Sinai and elsewhere.

ALS is a condition that usually manifests when someone is in their 50s or 60s. The cause is not known, and there is no test to predict its onset.

Genetic studies have not revealed a great deal yet, and while experts believe environmental factors play a big role in the development of the disease, there have been no clear indications of which ones.

The study showed dysregulated uptake of a mixture of essential elements, including zinc and copper, as well as toxins like lead and tin, in 36 ALS patients compared to 31 people with no ALS.

The markers of metal uptake dysregulation were also observed in teeth from an ALS mouse model that also showed differences in the distribution of metals in the brain compared to controls.

Previous work from the team had shown that the dysregulation of elemental metabolism in early life was associated with the onset of neurological diseases such as autism and ADHD

The team hopes in the long term, after validation of this work in larger studies, that this will lead to preventive strategies.

This is the first study to show a clear signature at birth and within the first decade of life, well before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease.

The leader of the study is Manish Arora, BDS, MPH, Ph.D., Edith J. Baerwald Professor and Vice-Chair of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The study is published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

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