BBWC talk: Climate change may foster ALS

Nov 06, 2017
Matthew Kruger

Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition will present a free talk about the impact of climate on harmful algal blooms. Matthew Kruger, a third-year PhD student in biomedical sciences at the University of Maine, will speak Thursday, Nov. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at Belfast Free Library, 106 High St.

Kruger is studying how climate change is affecting the intensity of cyanobacteria and its harmful algal blooms, and how that may impact the prevalence of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in Maine.

Amyotrophic Lateral Scleroses (ALS) is a debilitating disease that results in the destruction of motor neurons, loss of muscle control, and eventual death. Environment-gene interactions play an import role in the development of ALS and its progression.

One environmental toxin, BMAA (beta-Methylamino-L-alanine), has been associated with an increased prevalence of ALS. BMAA has several sources, including cyanobacteria, which grow in many lakes throughout Maine, and frequently release their toxins through harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Cyanobacteria are temperature sensitive, resulting in an increase in HAB intensity as our planet warms. Understanding the problem is the first step in prevention and could aid the development of protective drugs well before symptoms of ALS occur.

The Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition works to support conservation and stewardship of natural, scenic, and public access resources of the Belfast Bay watershed through research, community-building and education.

 

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