Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Reassessing ALS

Loss of connections between interneurons – the cells that control motor neurons – plays a role in development of motor neuron disease (ALS)

19 June 2021

Reassessing ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disease in which a person’s motor neurons – those controlling walking, talking, swallowing and so on – gradually die. This devastating disease can strike apparently healthy adults and send them to their death in just a few years. With the hope of understanding ALS pathology and developing treatments, scientists have, not surprisingly, placed motor neurons themselves in the spotlight. But recent research has shifted the focus to the cells controlling the motor neurons – interneurons (bright green dots in this mouse spinal cord). Studies in a mouse model of ALS have revealed that loss of interneuron connections actually precedes the death of motor neurons and parallels the loss of coordination. Furthermore, silencing interneurons in healthy mice led to ALS-like coordination problems. For now, an ALS cure remains wishful thinking, but it’s hoped that these new insights will bring new intervention opportunities.

Written by Ruth Williams

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.