Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Treatments
There are several treatment options for managing ALS symptoms. These include:
- Drugs to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These medications can treat pain, panic attacks, depression, uncontrollable laughter and crying and muscle twitches. The FDA-approved drug Riluzole® (Rilutek) has extended life expectancy in some ALS patients.
- Physical and occupational therapy, which may help slow muscle weakness and atrophy, as well as prevent immobility in joints.
- Use of a ventilator for breathing, which becomes necessary as chest muscles eventually fail.
Read more about these treatments below.
A breakthrough in research
While there is no cure yet for ALS, researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have found the malfunctioning protein recycling system at the heart of ALS. Efficient recycling of protein in the neurons is vital for their optimal function, and this failure to recycle the proteins is central to all three types of ALS.
The discovery of this root cause provides researchers a prime target for development of drug therapy and, ultimately, effective treatment of ALS. This will allow researchers to test for drugs that regulate or optimize this protein pathway and restore normal function.
This breakthrough research may also help in the study of other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.