Motor neuron diseases progressively attack nerve cells, reducing one's ability to speak, move, and breathe and typically killing patients within two to fours years after diagnosis.
In Riverina, New South Wales, Australia n researchers are testing waterways for a neurotoxin that may be connected to Lou Gehrig's disease.
.Motor neuron diseases progressively attack nerve cells, reducing one's ability to speak, move, and breathe and typically killing patients within two to fours years after diagnosis, researchers told theSydney Morning Herald.Rates of deaths due to MND have risen 250 percent over the past 30 years in Australia, Macquarie University scientists told the Herald. MND sufferers and scientists are trying to understand why certain areas of the country have especially high rates, which led them to the algae theory.
Some algae blooms release harmful toxins into the water and airCertain areas of Australia have curiously high rates of MND. Riverina, an agricultural region of New South Wales, hasbetween five and seven timesthe national incidence.The region is home to Lake Wyangan, a reservoir that frequently has outbreaks of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. The area around the lake is currently on
, meaning people should avoid fishing and swimming in the potentially toxic water, as well as drinking it.Cyanobacteria are known to release a number of toxins, including a neurotoxin called BMAA.suggests that BMAA could be one of many factors that leads to the development of motor neuron deterioration. headtopics.com
Story continuesfound BMAAin other algae-infested waterways in the Riverina area, but they haven't yet confirmed a link to MND. It's likely that the neurodegenerative disease stems from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.Even in genetically predisposed cases of MND, environmental stressors like algae blooms could contribute to the disease's onset and progression, Dominic Rowe, chair of Macquarie Neurology, told the Herald. But more research is needed to better understand how those factors interact.
"Until we actually, systematically study the genetic causes and take them out of the environment, it's hard to be 100 percent accurate about the environmental factors," Rowe said. Read more: Yahoo Singapore »
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