Telbivudine, a drug currently in use for treating patients with hepatitis, could be of use in significantly slowing the progression of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), scientists from the University of Alberta have announced.

Current treatments for ALS only slow the disease for a few months. According to the scientists the new treatment, which targets a misfolding protein in ALS patients, greatly reduced the toxic properties of this SOD1 protein, and could improve the health of the subject’s motor neurons and their movement skills.

The Alberta scientists used computer simulations to find drugs which could target the SOD1 protein. From this list, they tested a number of candidates using animal models.

This comes on the heels of another announcement by a chemist from Scripps Research which suggested most current ALS treatments are targeting the wrong RNA form to prevent neuron death from ALS. That suggested that the C9RAN protein was the main cause of the toxicity in the disease.