Feinberg School scientists found the cause of ALS by discovering a protein, ubiquilin2, whose critical job is to recycle damaged or misfolded proteins in motor and cortical neurons and shuttle them off to be reprocessed. In people with ALS, Feinberg researchers found ubiquilin2 isn’t doing its job. As a result, the damaged proteins and ubiquilin2 loiter and accumulate in the motor neurons in the spinal cord and cortical and hippocampal neurons in the brain. The protein accumulations resemble twisted skeins of yarn -- characteristic of ALS -- and cause the degeneration of the neurons. Researchers found ubiquilin2 in these skein-like accumulations in the spinal cords of ALS cases and in the brains of ALS/dementia cases.