upmcUsing a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine indicate that melatonin injections delayed symptom onset and reduced mortality. Robert Friedlander, MD, UPMC Endowed Professor of neurosurgery and neurobiology, chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine, reportedly served as senior investigator.

Friedlander notes that the experiment’s results suggest that a lack of melatonin and melatonin receptor 1, or MT1, is linked to the progression of ALS. The researchers say during the study they treated mice bred to have an ALS-like disease with injections of melatonin or with a placebo.

The results indicate that when compared to the untreated animals, the melatonin group developed symptoms later, survived longer, and had less degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord. Friedlander acknowledges that additional research is needed before human trials of melatonin or a drug similar to it can be conducted to determine its efficacy as an ALS treatment.

Friedlander adds that a blend of agents intended to act on these pathways may be what its ultimately needed to make headway in treating ALS.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences