Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive disease of the nervous system that attacks nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord.
Signs & Symptoms
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty running or walking
- Difficulty with writing
- Problems with speech
- Swallowing difficulty
- Muscle weakness
Are there Treatments Offered?
Currently, there are some drugs that can help with symptoms and improve quality of life—drugs to treat pain, panic attacks, depression, and muscle twitches.
While there is no cure as yet for ALS, researchers at Northwestern University have found the malfunctioning protein recycling system at the heart of ALS. Efficient recycling of protein in the neurons is vital for their optimal function, and this failure to recycle the proteins is central to all three types of ALS.
The discovery of this root cause provides researchers a prime target for development of drug therapy, and, ultimately, effective treatment of ALS. This will allow researchers to test for drugs that regulate or optimize this protein pathway and restore normal function, in time. This breakthrough research may also help in the study of other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Physical and occupational therapies may help slow muscle weakness and atrophy, as well as prevent immobility in joints. Use of a ventilator for breathing becomes necessary as chest muscles eventually fail.
Resources & Support
For additional information and to learn about resources available for patients with ALS and their families, visit the following websites: