A new study has shed a light on a powerful way glucose could benefit ALS patients.
Researchers from the University of Arizona recently experimented with injecting sugar into neurons found that the molecules became energized and functioned better. The team theorizes that the treatment could help ALS sufferers live longer by helping their bodies produce more glucose.
“ALS is a devastating disease,” said researcher Daniela Zarnescu. “It renders people from functioning one day to rapidly and visibly deteriorating. The fact that we uncovered a compensatory mechanism surprised me. These desperate, degenerating neurons showed incredible resilience. It is an example of how amazing cells are at dealing with stress.”
Benefitting from sugar
To see how glucose would affect ALS patients, the researchers used fruit flies in their trials, observing them under microscopes after probing their neurons with glucose.
The more glucose the neurons were injected with, the better they performed, and the longer they stayed alive. The researchers also found the opposite to be true; when they decreased the amount of glucose, the cells didn’t perform as well.
“These neurons were finding some relief by breaking down glucose and getting more cellular energy,” said researcher Ernesto Manzo.
The researchers explained that glucose is necessary for the body to produce more energy, which those with ALS often struggle with. According to Zarnescu, these results are particularly important because this subject has become a difficult one for researchers, “in part because of limited accessibility to the nervous system.”
Moving forward, the researchers hope that more work can be done in this area to help ALS patients better manage their condition.