MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It’s a medical breakthrough at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Researchers who seek to cure childhood diseases found something that could potentially treat ALS patients.

Put simply, St. Jude scientists have discovered enzymes that could be triggered to treat muscle and brain disorders like ALS, dementia and more.

It’s a discovery Dr. Mondira Kundu says her team wasn’t even looking for.

“When we initially found the interactions, we were pretty excited,” Dr. Kundu said.

Enzymes that could play a counteractive role in degenerative neurological diseases like ALS, IBM and frontotemporal dementia.

While conducting various tests for study, Dr. Kundu's team discovered that two enzymes, ULK1 and ULK2, can break down cell structures that kill muscle and brain cells.

“The next thing is to see whether, in these types of models does stimulating ULK1 and ULK2 activity, increase the life span or start to treat the pathology,” Dr. Kundu said.

This discovery itself doesn’t mean a cure for ALS or other neurological diseases is imminent, but Dr. Kundu said it’s another step along the way.

Dr. Kundu credits St. Jude’s donors and the fundraising team at ALSAC for making the breakthrough possible.

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