Iowa State doctoral tyro turns tragedy into probability with ALS research

January 19, 2018 - als

Lauren Laboissonniere was 13 when her grandfather died from amyotrophic parallel sclerosis (ALS). Now that she is a doctoral student, a illness coined Lou Gehrig’s illness is a concentration of her research.

Laboissonniere is investigate dungeon populations in rodent models of Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a neurodegenerative commotion where a engine neurons — a cells that control transformation — start to degenerate. In a commencement stages, symptoms like flesh rigidity and rawness are present.

As a illness progresses, it can break a diaphragm and make things like respirating difficult. ALS is fatal, has no heal and unequivocally few treatments.

“It left a unequivocally durability sense on me,” Laboissonniere said. “There’s no good diagnosis choice for people with a disease. Then we came to Iowa State.”


Lauren Laboissonniere works in her lab during a Molecular Biology building, investigate ALS in rodent models. Her idea is to find a biomedical pen to aim a illness in cells to rise a treatment.

ALS — like many neurodegenerative diseases — is progressive, definition that when a illness initial sets in, there are small to no conspicuous symptoms, and over time it becomes some-more serious, unpleasant and even fatal. Most neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s illness have few diagnosis options, if any. Unfortunately, ALS is no opposite in this respect.

At 13 years old, Laboissonniere hadn’t seen illness that couldn’t be fought. Despite her father carrying varying forms of cancer, he had always been treated, and a cancer would be gone. 

“When we was flourishing adult it was like we get sick, we go to a doctor, we get better,” Laboissonniere said. “My father has had opposite forms of cancer all my life, though he would go to a alloy and he would get better. So even cancer to me wasn’t, like, a vast deal.”

Laboissonniere said that when her grandfather was diagnosed with ALS, she had never encountered a illness that couldn’t be treated. So when her mom — who was a helper — told her that her grandfather wasn’t going to get improved and that he was going to die, it was ‘eye opening.’

“She finished it clear, ‘Grandpa is not gonna live. He is not going to tarry this. This is not a illness that we come out a other side of. He will die.’ It was baffling to me,” Laboissonniere said. “At a time he was diagnosed he might’ve had rawness in his arms, though to me he seemed fine. But we didn’t comprehend that not all has a drug. As a 13-year-old that’s tough to fastener with. He upheld divided reduction than a year later, in April, only after my birthday.”

Laboissonniere referred to a quote from a book “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom: “ALS is like a illuminated candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your physique a raise of wax.”

“It’s a unequivocally unhappy disease. You’re being tube fed, you’re being cleared by someone else, we can’t move, and we don’t know their mental health so we don’t know if they are wakeful of what’s going on, or if they have insanity or maybe they’re entirely means and totally reactive,” Laboissonniere said. “What a worse approach to go, trapped inside your possess body.”

She pronounced she knew right divided afterwards that she wanted to investigate a disease. 

“Lauren [Laboissonniere] performs some state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques to representation what genes are voiced in opposite populations,” pronounced partner highbrow Jeff Trimarchi. “This is most some-more formidable than it competence sound and requires both soppy lab molecular biology ability and ability in computational investigate of a vast information sets.”

Laboissonniere studied these techniques during a University of Massachusetts when she was an undergrad in biomedical engineering. 


Doctoral tyro Lauren Laboisssoniere is investigate ALS in rodent models in partnership with Jeff Trimarchi of Iowa State University and Dr. Hande Ozdinler of Northwestern University.

When she came to Iowa State, she began to investigate a retina underneath Trimarchi. Trimarchi had a tie during Northwestern University, Dr. Hande Ozdinler, who works during a Northwestern School of Medicine and has a series of rodent models of ALS that Laboissonniere and Trimarchi have been means to use for their research.

“We demeanour during a opposite genes that [the mice models] are expressing and we review them to healthy mice during a same time points to see if there are genes that are being over-expressed or under-expressed that might be causing those cells to die,” Laboissonniere said.

Laboissonniere said a idea of this investigate is to besiege markers of a illness in dungeon populations, aim them and exam drugs that will conflict a markers of a disease. 

“We are unequivocally anticipating to brand some arrange of biomarker or something that we can aim with a drug that can stop or delayed down a illness progression, in hopes that it will interpret behind to humans,” Laboissonniere said.

Laboissonniere has examined mixed ALS rodent models and now is in a routine of edition a formula of this research. 

Along with her investigate and a retina investigate with Trimarchi, she is in assign of a group of undergrad students operative on a plan investigate zebrafish models of ALS.

“In all of these projects, Lauren [Laboissonniere] has finished a smashing job. She functions as a unequivocally eccentric researcher,” Trimarchi said. “Teaching herself a computational skills indispensable to investigate all of a information she has generated is quite impressive.”

Laboissonniere is now interviewing in labs for her postdoctoral investigate as she completes her doctorate this spring. She hopes to run an ALS lab of her possess one day.

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