Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS), is a progressive neurological disease that impairs motor neurons. It usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 60, with women at greater risk than men. ALS belongs to a group of motor neuron disorders (others include Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy), which lead to the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons. The upper and lower motor neurons serve as connections from the nervous system to the muscles in the body. As the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate, ceasing to send messages to muscles, patients present with muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body. Consequently, sufferers may increasingly lose the ability to initiate and control voluntary movement. Bladder and bowel function, and the muscles responsible for eye movements are usually spared.
At present, there is no known cure for ALS. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms. Cells treatment for ALS may have potential for select patients in the future.