The Paulo Gontijo Institute (IPG) held in Natal the fourth Brazilian collection of genetic material to be evaluated by Project MinE, an international program that seeks to identify the causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The action took place on April 1st, at the Support Hospital in Brasilia and DNAs were collected from 10 people over 18 and who show the disease, besides 7 "controls", spouses, people who do not have the disease.
Projetc MinE operates in 16 countries and aims to identify the causes of ALS and to bring new forms of therapeutic approach. For that, the project proposes the sequencing of 15 thousand patients with ALS and 7,500 controls. The plan is to analyze the profiles of people with ALS and compare them to profiles of controls to find associations which genetic variants which would be responsible for the disease.
"It is recommended that ALS be the result of the interaction between environmental and genetic factors. In order to correctly identify the latter, it is necessary to evaluate a large number of samples, due to the variability of populations", explains Dr. Miguel Mitne Neto, research coordinator at IPG. "The involvement of Brazil in this project is very important due to the miscegenation of its population, which can bring important answers to this area of study".
The IPG and the USP Genome are the only representatives of Brazil in Project MinE and, in March of this year, reached the mark of 13% in the collections. The expectation is that by December 2017 the country reaches 50% of the goal of 100 patients and 50 controls.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis causes muscle atrophy and the patient's average survival is only three years. There is no cure for ALS and the only existing treatments are simply palliative. In Brazil, it is estimated that 12 to 15 thousand people have the disease. Worldwide, there are about 200,000. "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a diagnosis that changes forever the lives of all those affected, whether it be patients, relatives, friends or caregivers," says neurologist Francisco Rotta, medical coordinator of the Paulo Gontijo Institute (IPG).