Led by Dr. Martín Montecino, director of the center for biomedical research and Dr. Brigitte van Zundert, Universidad Andrés Bello’s research team undertook the Ice Bucket Challenge, a global effort to bring attention to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “We very willingly and happily accepted the challenge. Our goal is to join the rest of our colleagues who are working in the neurosciences and related areas to bring additional awareness to this disease,” said Dr. Brigitte van Zundert.
Nominated by Dr. Claudio Hetz, a researcher from the institute of biomedical neuroscience at Universidad de Chile, the team of UNAB researchers named three others they challenge to take the test, including: Ariel Orellana, UNAB’s vice rector of research; María Elena Boisier, the president of Conicyt; and Dr. Enrique Brandan, researcher in the department of cellular and molecular biology at la Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile.
Dr. van Zundert took advantage of the opportunity to provide information on this sickness, which has no cure, and advances through the body by destroying the motor neurons that control muscular functions. Once these motor neurons are gone, the patient cannot control their own body. It normally leads to death within three to five years of diagnosis, normally due to respiratory issues.
The researcher added that the work underway at UNAB’s center of Biomedical Research is helping to contribute to the current understanding of ALS. Part of the reason why there are so few treatments to slow progress of the disease is that the diagnosis tends to be quite late. Through UNAB's research, experts now know that there are signs many years before these visible symptoms occur.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.