Stem Cell Treatment for ALS is Available at ASCI
ALS - AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS
ALS Stem Cell Treatment Case Review
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input.
The condition is often called Lou Gehrig's disease in North America, after the New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The disorder is characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, spasticity, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise. Sensory function generally is spared, as is autonomic, and oculomotor activity. ALS is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disease
Signs and symptoms
The disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body caused by degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons. Unable to function, the muscles weaken and atrophy. Affected individuals may ultimately lose the ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement, although bladder and bowel sphincters and the muscles responsible for eye movement are usually, but not always, spared.
Cognitive function is generally spared for most patients although some (~5%) also have frontotemporal dementia. A higher proportion of patients (~30-50%) also have more subtle cognitive changes which may go unnoticed but are revealed by detailed neuropsychological testing. Sensory nerves and the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions like sweating, are generally unaffected but may be involved for some patients.
The earliest symptoms of ALS are typically obvious weakness and/or muscle atrophy. Other presenting symptoms include muscle fasciculation (twitching), cramping, or stiffness of affected muscles; muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg; and/or slurred and nasal speech. The parts of the body affected by early symptoms of ALS depend on which motor neurons in the body are damaged first. About 75% of people contracting the disease experience "limb onset" ALS.
The cause of ALS is not known, though an important step toward determining the cause came in 1993 when scientists discovered that mutations in the gene that produces the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) enzyme were associated with some cases (approximately 20%) of familial ALS. This enzyme is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from damage caused by superoxide, a toxic free radical generated in the mitochondria. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules produced by cells during normal metabolism again largely by the mitochondria. Free radicals can accumulate and cause damage to both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA and proteins within cells.
Studies also have focused on the role of glutamate in motor neuron degeneration. Glutamate is one of the chemical messengers or neurotransmitters in the brain. Scientists have found that, compared to healthy people, ALS patients have higher levels of glutamate in the serum and spinal fluid. Riluzole is currently the only FDA approved drug for ALS and targets glutamate transporters. It only has a modest effect on survival, however, suggesting that excess glutamate is not the sole cause of the disease.
No test can provide a definite diagnosis of ALS, although the presence of upper and lower motor neuron signs in a single limb is strongly suggestive. Instead, the diagnosis of ALS is primarily based on the symptoms and signs the physician observes in the patient and a series of tests to rule out other diseases. Physicians obtain the patient's full medical history and usually conduct a neurologic examination at regular intervals to assess whether symptoms such as muscle weakness, atrophy of muscles, hyperreflexia, and spasticity are getting progressively worse.
Related Articles Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the Assessment of Neurodegenerative Disease. Neurotherapeutics. 2017 Jan;14(1):91-106 Authors: Vucic S, Kiernan MC Abstract Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive technique that has provided important information about cortical function across an array of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson's disease, and related extrapyramidal disorders. Application of TMS techniques in neurodegenerative diseases has provided important pathophysiological insights, leading to the development of pathogenic and diagnostic biomarkers that could be used in the clinical setting and therapeutic trials. Abnormalities of TMS outcome measures heralding cortical hyperexcitability, as evidenced by a reduction of short-interval intracortical inhibition and increased in motor-evoked potential amplitude, have been consistently identified as early and intrinsic features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), preceding and correlating with the ensuing neurodegeneration. Cortical hyperexcitability appears to form the pathogenic basis of ALS, mediated by trans-synaptic glutamate-mediated excitotoxic mechanisms. As a consequence of these research findings, TMS has been developed as a potential diagnostic biomarker, capable of identifying upper motor neuronal pathology, at earlier stages of the disease process, and thereby aiding in ALS diagnosis. Of further relevance, marked TMS abnormalities have been reported in other neurodegenerative diseases, which have varied from findings in ALS. With time and greater utilization by clinicians, TMS outcome measures may prove to be of utility in future therapeutic trial settings across the neurodegenerative disease spectrum, including the monitoring of neuroprotective, stem-cell, and genetic-based strategies, thereby enabling assessment of biological effectiveness at early stages of drug development. PMID: 27830492 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]Read more...