Universidad Andres Bello Professor Receives Grant to Support Research on ALS

Dr. Brigitte van Zundert, professor at the Center for Bio-Medical Research (Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas, CIB) at Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB) has for the second time earned a 2-year grant from the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Therapy Alliance Foundation to support her research on the causes of ALS, also known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The work will be led by Dr. Van Zundert with the support of Dr. Martín Montecino, director of the CIB at UNAB, and Dr. Lorena Varela-Nallar. They will work with a team of ALS experts who are located in the U.S. and Germany.

Dr. Van Zundert and her team have already made many important advances that have expanded knowledge of ALS. The ALS Therapy Alliance Foundation is an international non-profit that seeks to bring resources together to support research on this disease around the world. 

“The research we are carrying out seeks to show that ALS begins many years before the initial symptoms begin to appear. In prior research, we showed that some cells that are part of neural networks will, under certain circumstances, secrete toxic substances that hurt neural motors, provoking the disease. Our current project will focus on identifying these substances, which we believe could lead to earlier detection,”

stated Dr. Van Zundert.

At the same time, Dr. Van Zundert’s work seeks to identify common factors among the different models currently being used to study the disease, which will help support the extrapolation of new knowledge from experiments on the disease. She believes that once the chemicals are identified, pre-symptoms can be established, allowing for earlier treatment and possibly preventing the onset of the disease.