Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Test for swallowing disorder treatments being developed

Date:
April 29, 2010
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
One of the silent, and most serious, symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease is losing the ability to swallow. Swallowing impairment, or dysphagia, affects about 500,000 people annually in the US, but little is known about the disorder. Now, a researcher is developing a test that might help pinpoint the neurological or physiological origins of swallowing disorders, leading to possible life-saving treatments.

Muscle degeneration and confinement to a wheelchair are the hallmarks of Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy and other neurodegenerative diseases. One of the silent, and most serious, symptoms of these diseases is losing the ability to swallow. Swallowing impairment, or dysphagia, affects about 500,000 people annually in the U.S., but little is known about the disorder and only a few temporary, behavioral treatments are available.

Now, a University of Missouri researcher is developing a test that might help pinpoint the neurological or physiological origins of swallowing disorders, leading to possible life-saving treatments.

"A lot of these diseases attack the limbs, but you don't die because your limbs don't work," said Teresa Lever, assistant professor in department of Communication Science and Disorders at the MU School of Health Professions. "Even though we can give patients feeding tubes with all the nutrients they need, there is no cure for swallowing disorders associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and patients still die early. I am trying to determine what is driving that mortality. If it is swallowing impairment, we need to know how the impairment starts and how we could treat it successfully, which would then improve patients' lifespan and quality of life."

Lever is trying to determine which components of the nervous system that control swallowing are impaired in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. To swallow, the brain must first sense the need to swallow, and then it must activate the right muscles to complete the process. In her study, she is developing an electrophysiological technique for use with mouse models of human neurological diseases that will show which regions of the brain are being used to swallow and which are short-circuiting. After finding which regions of the brain are not working correctly for each disease, treatments, such as stem cell therapy, gene therapy or certain medications, might be used to target those regions. The first disease that she is focusing on is Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.

"Instead of just treating a behavior, I am trying to determine the source of that behavior," Lever said. "Swallowing is a reflex -- you sense the need to swallow and then you have a muscular response. If we find that the sensory component of the swallowing reflex is being impaired along with the neuromuscular component, then many of these neurological diseases may be much more complex than we have been led to believe. It would tell us that our evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders should not just focus on the muscles and the nerves that stimulate them, but also on the sensory input. It would really create a paradigm shift in the research, especially for ALS which is classified as a motor neuron disease."

Lever recently received a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for the study. She said that testing will begin in July and expects substantial results in the next two to three years.

Lever's research has been published in the journal Dysphagia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Teresa E. Lever, Emmanuelle Simon, Kathleen T. Cox, Norman F. Capra, Kevin F. O'Brien, Monica S. Hough, Alexander K. Murashov. A Mouse Model of Pharyngeal Dysphagia in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Dysphagia, 2009; DOI: 10.1007/s00455-009-9232-1
  2. Teresa E. Lever, Ambre Gorsek, Kathleen T. Cox, Kevin F. O'Brien, Norman F. Capra, Monica S. Hough, Alexander K. Murashov. An Animal Model of Oral Dysphagia in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Dysphagia, 2008; 24 (2): 180 DOI: 10.1007/s00455-008-9190-z

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Test for swallowing disorder treatments being developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428121525.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2010, April 29). Test for swallowing disorder treatments being developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428121525.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Test for swallowing disorder treatments being developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428121525.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins