Express delivery. Astrocytes (red) supply life's essentials to neighboring neurons (green) in the rat brain. Miriam Ascagni, San Raffaele Institute for the GE Healthcare Image Competition.

Astrocytes keep neighboring motor neurons in the central nervous system healthy by delivering essential nutrients and protective substances through regulating blood flow. But in people with ALS, growing evidence suggests that astrocytes turn against these motor neurons by triggering inflammation, injury and ultimately death.  

Researchers are now trying to understand the role of astrocytes in ALS. Recent insights into these cellular turncoats are shedding new light into disease mechanisms and inspiring new directions in drug therapies for the disease.

ALS Today's Michelle Pflumm talks to experts about astrocytes, their role in ALS and potential treatment strategies to foil their neuronal coup d'état.

 

From The Bench
A new astrocyte on the ALS block

Scientists at Uruguay's Institut Pasteur de Montevideo discover a new kind of astrocyte in rats that may contribute to ALS progression.

In Translation
Operation neuroprotection

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are developing a stem cell-based strategy in mice to slow or stop the progression of the disease.

Tool Time
Dishing ALS

Scientists at the Nationwide Children's Hospital recreate ALS in the laboratory dish paving the way for the discovery of new therapies for the disease.