FINANCE RESEARCH TO IDENTIFY THE GENETIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISK FACTORS OF ALS DEVELOPMENT IN FOOTBALL PLAYERS AND TO IDENTIFY POSSIBL MOLECULAR TARGETS FOR NEW THERAPY
A recent epidemiologic study on professional Italian football players engaged in series A and B between 1970 and 2001 showed how the frequency of ALS is significantly higher (approximately 6.5 times) and the age of onset is net inferior (on average 43 years) with respect to the occurrence in the general Italian population. The origin of such increase and precocity is unknown.
It is possible to hypothesise, beyond the intense physical activity typical of an agonistic sport, that the increase in frequency is correlated to the use of substances assumed for the improvement in athletic performance and/or the use of pharmaceuticals for a prolonged period or in greater quantities with respect to the indicated therapeutic use. It is also assumable that there is a correlation with the specific traumas related to the game of football (for example, the headshot) or the prolonged exposure to toxins such as fertilisers and herbicides used on the football fields.
The fact that despite all of the football players examined being exposed to the same or similar environmental risk factors and only some of them contracted ALS indicates that the genetic characteristics that predispose some individuals to develop the disease probably exist. Therefore, to deepen the awareness regarding possible environmental factors and to identify the predisposed genes may provide very useful elements to identifying the origin of the disease in the 4000 Italian patients that are not professional football players.
The principal objectives are therefore, those of researching the bio-molecular characteristics that can define the increase in risk of developing ALS in professional football players and by means of these characteristics, identifying possible diagnostic indicators of the disease and possible targets for the development of new strategic therapies.
The study is pre-established to
1) investigate the clinical characteristics of Italian football players afflicted with ALS by retrospective and prospective analysis of all of the cases noted from 1970;
2) identify eventual genetic polymorphisms as possible risk factors for the development of the disease in professional football players;
3) develop cellular models obtained from peripheral tissues (e.g. primary lymphocyte and fibroblast cultures) with which it is possible to investigate mechanisms involved in the process of neurodegeneration;
4) identify by means of proteome analysis proteome analysis (proteome analysis) new biochemical indicators that are characteristic of the disease.
This study was created by the consolidated collaboration between Dr. Gabriele Mora of the Salvatore Maugeri Foundation in Pavia and Prof. Adriano Chiò of the Department of Neuroscience in Turin who were the authors of the survey on ALS in football players, along with the basic scientific contributions by Dr. Caterina Bendotti of the Department of Neuroscience at the “Mario Negri” Institute who has worked in this area for numerous years.
The overall cost of this study amounts to 220,000 Euro and includes 3 biennial scholarships, the necessary reactants for conducting the experiment and the acquisition of an instrument (Bio-Plex System, Bio-Rad).
1 three-year study grant for biologist position at the Mario Negri Institute (cost 45.000 €)
1 two-year study grant for biologist position at the Maugeri Foundation (cost 40.000 €)
1 two-year study grant for biologist position at the Neuroscience Department of Turin (cost 40.000€)
Materials and equipment:
Bio-plex System (Bio-rad) : system for the simultaneous detection of different analytes (cytokines,Phospho-proteins, cell death factors). Cost 72.000 € approximately.- Technical Datasheet
Medical consumables (antibodies, enzymes, immunohistochemistry kits, growth media, genetic primers and sequencing kits, etc.). Approximate cost 50.000 €
Annexes to Study Grant (Department of Neusroscience of the “Mario Negri” Institute):
– Call for applications for 1 study grant for students with a degree in biomedical disciplines
– Letter to Dr. Silvia Pozzi
– Letter to the Fondazione Vialli e Mauro
– Request one year extension (pdf)
Annexes to Study Grant (Turin Neuroscience Department):
– Study Grant call for Applications
– CV (Dr. Maura Brunetti)
– Minutes of the Committee Meeting
– Request of funding for the Study Grant (Prof. Filippo Bogetto)
07/05/ 2007: Paid 72,000 Euros for the purchase of Bioplex (Bio-Rad Laboratories s.r.l, invoice n. S01/20710589 dated 26/3/2007)
23/01/2008: Paid € 9,456 for first supply of consumables
26/03/2008: Paid € 20,000 for second supply of consumables
ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT AT THE MARIO NEGRI INSTITUTE OF MILAN
March 2008: Report on the activities carried out in the first semester (September 2007- March 2008)
September 2009: Request one year extension (pdf)
ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT AT THE MOLECULAR GENETICS LAB OF THE S.ANNA HOSPITAL (TURIN)
September 2008: Report on activities carried out from 2/05/08 to 31/07/08 (pdf)
October – December 2010: Report on the identification of genetic mechanisms causing the disease and possible therapies (pdf)
9 December 2010: IDENTIFIED THE NEW GENE LIKELY TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALS – Press Release
21 September 2011: IDENTIFIED NEW GENE PRINCIPAL RESPONSIBLE OF FAMILIAL ALS CASES – Press Release; Neuron Article
Dr. Caterina Bendotti
Molecular Neurobiology Lab
Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Researchi
Milan (link: www.marionegri.it)
Prof. Adriano Chiò
Department of Neuroscience
Turin University (link: www.unito.it)
Dr. Gabriele Mora
Salvatore Maugeri Foundation
Pavia Scientific Institute (link: www.fsm.it)