The ALS Association funds millions of dollars in research every year, in a variety of scientific focus areas critical to advancing the search for treatments and a cure for ALS. In the nearly 150 years since ALS was first described in 1874, the search for new treatments and a cure has been frustratingly slow. However, the last decade has seen promising acceleration in progress, and in the last few years, five genes related to ALS have been identified. The ALS Association is currently funding a total of 169 active research projects in 16 different focus areas, and for everyone involved, critical discoveries cannot come soon enough. The promise shown in ongoing biomarker research gives reason for hope.Continue reading ALS Biomarker Research — One More Reason to Hope
We’ve written before here about how there are real, tangible discovers being made in ALS research, but for everyone involved the pace of discovery can’t move fast enough. As such, when a new idea presents itself that has a real chance to move the needle it worth noting. Such an idea is taking shape right now with the first ALS platform trial at The Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital.Continue reading Adding to Research Momentum—The First ALS Platform Trial Takes Shape
It’s the time of year where you almost can’t help looking back. In a few short days 2019 will be no more. The year has been one of milestones and new beginnings for us here at the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter, and while we are looking back we wanted to include you and remember what a year it’s been.Continue reading The Year That Was—Looking Back
First, the obvious: everyone wishes there were more effective ALS treatments found already. Progress is being made, with five new genes discovered and two new treatments in the last five years—we are closer than ever to the possibility of a cure. But, even as we talk about how there have been real, tangible discoveries in ALS research, we cannot yet point to a reliable treatment to dramatically slow progression of the disease, let alone a treatment that stops progression or acts as a cure. It is heartbreaking for people with ALS and their families.
But for people with ALS, there is an active role they can take in fighting the disease: by participating in a clinical trial. For while the search new therapies begins in the laboratory, where ideas for new treatments are tested in cell cultures or test tubes, if a treatment shows enough promise it must eventually be tested on the intended end user, meaning human beings—living, breathing people.Continue reading A Clinical Trials Primer
From the outside, research can seem like an endless process. As much as we all yearn for the “AH HA!” moment of discovery, more often than not the gains from any sort of research are incremental. Not so much finding a needle in a haystack as a slow, methodical, documented labeling of this piece of hay, then this piece, then this piece….As Thomas Edison said about the process of researching and creating the lightbulb: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
ALS research has proven to be just such a challenge to the best minds in the medical and scientific communities. But recent advances are creating excitement about new ideas and opportunities, aided in no small part by the influx of funding created by the Ice Bucket Challenge. With all that is going on, we wanted to take a moment to look at what is happening in ALS research—to see what is new, what is promising, and what the future may hold.Continue reading ALS Research—The Pace of Discover Is on the Rise
When it comes to treating symptoms associated with ALS, people will try a variety of methods to see what will work best for them. Among those options is medical marijuana, or cannabis. Although this can be a controversial treatment method depending on where you live and your outlook on the drug, some people with ALS believe the benefits provided by cannabis makes it easier to live with ALS. Here’s what you should know about cannabis and ALS treatment.*
It is a known fact that frontotemporal degneration (FTD) is connected to ALS and complicates an already difficult diagnosis. In light of World FTD Awareness Week, here are more details on the connection between ALS and FTD. Republished with permission from The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFD).
The discovery in 2011 that the C9orf72 gene mutation can cause both FTD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has transformed a long held belief that ALS is ‘purely’ a movement disorder and that FTD is ‘purely’ a cognitive or behavioral form of dementia.
It is now recognized that the C9orf72 gene is the most common gene causing hereditary FTD, ALS and ALS with FTD. We now know that several other genes can also cause both diseases. FTD or frontotemporal degeneration is a progressive brain disease with changes in behavior, personality, and language dysfunction due to loss of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease with loss of upper (located in the brain) and lower (located in the spinal cord) motor neurons that leads to paralysis, dysphagia, dysarthria and eventually respiratory failure.
LeBron James did it. Bill Gates did it. Oprah, Steven Spielberg and President George W. Bush did it. But the majority of people who took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 were not celebrities, just ordinary folks who got caught up in the fun of nominating friends and family on social media to be doused in water and ice for a good cause. It’s safe to say, however, that there was definitely another reason why the Ice Bucket Challenge gained traction. ALS is a relentless disease that takes away a person’s ability to move, walk, talk, and breathe on their own and keeps them trapped in their body. To watch someone you know go through this is absolutely devastating, and knowing that there is no cure can sometimes make people feel both helpless and hopeless. For the thousands of individuals affected by ALS, this painful reality was fuel for action that inspired a community of people to come together four years ago to create the original ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
What followed from this largest viral social media movement of all time was not just news feeds packed with ice bucket challenge videos, but real and meaningful impact for people with ALS – and for researchers searching for treatments and a cure. The effects of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continue to be felt in the ALS community.
The National ALS Registry is used to collect, manage and analyze data about people with ALS. The more people signed into the Registry, the more information researchers have access to in their work toward a cure, treatment, and prevention. When people with ALS include themselves in the National ALS Registry, they’re including themselves in the national effort to end ALS.
Because the Registry is its own unique research project and requires people with ALS to join the Registry directly, here are five things people with ALS should know before enrolling.
By Maureen Barber Hill, President/CEO of The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter
Although I think of my dad often, Father’s Day always brings with it a special pang of sadness. It’s been 25 years now that I have not been able to spend Father’s Day with him — he lost his battle to ALS in September of 1992. As the years pass I think I will always feel like a part of me will always ache – like I’m missing something, but more so someone, especially around those pivotal moments of my life and my children’s lives. My kids never got the opportunity to know what a great man he was. My daughter Meghan was only four years old and my son Michael was just seven days old when ALS took their grandfather from them.