ALS & Neuromuscular Diseases

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Description of Disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, ultimately fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.

Individuals with ALS lose their strength, their ability to move their arms, legs, and body, and, ultimately, their ability to breathe without ventilator support.  Although not associated with impaired thinking or other cognitive abilities, recent studies suggest some ALS patients may develop a form of dementia, including trouble with memory and decision-making.

Some treatments appear to slow ALS or relieve symptoms, and new treatment trials are ongoing. There are currently no cures.

Other disorders involve the peripheral nerves, neuromuscular junction, and muscle include:  peripheral neuropathy (diabetic but also chemotherapy-induced and hereditary), Guillain-Barre & CIDP, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy (Duchenne & Becker’s) and myopathies (hereditary/congenital or acquired).

Mysteries of Disease that Need to be Solved

Despite years of research, we still don’t fully understand what causes ALS. What causes motor neurons to die?

Can we develop a treatment that prevents or lessens the severity of ALS?

Peripheral neuropathy is a debilitating condition often associated with use of cancer chemotherapy, is there a way to prevent from harming or restore damaged nerves?

Disease Resources

What is ALS? (The ALS Association)

About Neuromuscular Diseases (MDA)

Myasthenia Gravis Fact Sheet (NIH)

Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet (NIH)

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