French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ((a-my-o-TROE-fik LAT-ur-ul skluh-ROE-si) or ALS. Originally, we knew ALS as Charcot’s disease after the discoverer. However, in June of 1941, it became known as Lou Gehrig’s disease when the hall of famer retired from baseball shortly after his diagnosis. There is no cure for ALS, leaving us to do more work to find effective treatments for this deadly condition. Continue reading to learn more about ALS and what research studies are doing to help.
What is ALS?
ALS affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control. It is a progressive disease that begins with slurred speech, muscle twitching, and weakness in a limb. Over time, ALS affects the muscles that we need to eat, breathe, move, and speak. Typically, there is no pain at any stage, and the bladder and senses are not affected. ALS is fatal, and most live 3-5 years after diagnosis. However, some people live for ten or more years.
What the Ice Bucket Challenge did for ALS
Five years ago, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” swept the world and catapulted ALS funding for research to new heights. The funding surge has increased the pace of discovery, allowed the foundation to allocate more to researchers, and has paved the way for constructing one of the largest resources of ALS whole genome-sequencing data. Since then, researchers have connected five new genes to ALS.
Treatments for ALS focus on symptom relief and slowing progression. Unfortunately, nothing can reverse the damage of the disease. While the FDA has two approved treatments for ALS, there is still work to do to find more effective therapies and, eventually, a cure. Clinical research studies have the responsibility of filling the large gap in the wake of ALS.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ALS,upcoming research studies may be an option. To learn more, visit our website.