Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates for UC San Diego Health patients and visitors. Learn More


ALS Research Biorepositories

ALS Blood Bank

The ALS Blood Bank is a repository of blood samples collected from volunteers with ALS to be used for current and future research projects. Some of the projects include searching for ALS biomarkers, genetic factors and gene expression in ALS, and pathophysiology of ALS. The donation is less than 100 mL of blood (this is less than one fifth of the amount that is standard for Red Cross donations) and provides an abundance of research material for multiple research projects. We are collecting samples from both volunteers with ALS and people who do not have ALS (control volunteers).


Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) of skin fibroblasts from a patient with the mutation of the gene C9orf72. The figure above shows inclusions comprised of RNA from this gene that abnormally aggregate in the nucleus and are suspected to be a critical aspect of the disease pathogenesis.

Skin Tissue Bank

We are creating a bank of cultured fibroblast cells using skin biopsy samples collected from sporadic ALS patients, control volunteers and especially patients with C9orf72 mutation and their family members. These cells allow for ongoing research of the pathophysiology of both sporadic and genetic forms of ALS, and provide a research model for therapies.

We are searching for more volunteers willing to have a skin biopsy to support this research. While science has sophisticated models and technologies to study these diseases, direct access to human tissues with these diseases is vitally important and in short supply. Volunteering involves having a skin biopsy procedure performed (a small 3 mm incision is made to collect the sample). From this biopsy, a specific type of cell called a fibroblast will be extracted and then cultured to become a resource for future studies.

ALS Central Nervous System (CNS) Tissue Bank

Information gained from central nervous system (CNS) tissues collected after death is vital to the ongoing research at the UC San Diego Center for ALS Research and Therapy. Despite years of research, the actual pathogenesis of ALS remains unknown. 

Effective treatments will depend on a better understanding of the cause of the disease. Gaining both ALS and control (healthy) tissue is needed for this research process. We ask that ALS patients, friends and family members consider making the commitment to assist in future research by agreeing to donate CNS tissue samples.

TDP 43 protein implicated in ALS pathogenesis 

In 2006, an obscure protein called TDP-43 was identified in ALS to abnormally mislocate from where it normally functions in the nucleas (right) to the cytoplasm (left) where the protein clumps and aggregates. This discovery transformed the ideas about ALS pathogenesis and has been one of the critical themes of modern molecular research.

Contact ALS Research Biorepositories