Identifying ALS Before it Starts

When someone is diagnosed with ALS, it comes with little warning.  There might be a weakness in a limb or an unexplained slur in their speech.  Many ignore it at first.  Finally, they go to the doctor only to be told they have an incurable and terminal condition.

ALS (or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a condition that is caused by the degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons.  This leads to muscle atrophy, spasms, progressive weakness, as well as difficultly speaking, breathing, and swallowing.  Eventually, the body losing its ability to function.  Only 4{4484a610ba12ad46baec767347073917e486819a83b2d744ced0feda89144e79} of people with ALS survive longer than 10 years.

The life expectancy given is typically around 3 years.

Currently there is no way of predicting or preventing ALS.  There is also no cure.  But for the 30,000 Americans who have ALS, researches are trying to help them.  It starts with trying to figure out what’s triggering the problem.

Following the Signs

Recently, Israeli scientists are studying bone marrow stem cells of various patients with ALS to find a correlation. During their studies, they have found 4 distinct genes that might be “biomarkers” for ALS..

Once they marked these cells in the lab, they decided to test them.  Using toxins, the scientists would purposely attack the cells to see how they responded.  A typically healthy cell would try to defend itself against an attack like this.  However, these four cells simply died without a fight.

While this doesn’t tell them how to cure ALS, it could help in coming up with a way to screen people for ALS.  The earlier a condition like this can be detected, the easier it typically is to fight and hopefully cure.

Currently, ALS is a condition that shows up unannounced and moves very rapidly.  Any chance of detecting it and slowing it down is a chance worth taking.

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