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Scientists Discover Cause of Lou Gehrig’s Disease

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Recently, ALS researchers announced some promising news that could help them find an effective treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Until now, scientists weren’t sure of the exact disease process that eventually leads to patients’ inability to move, talk, swallow and breathe.

However, neuroscientists at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine recently identified a breakdown between the body’s cellular "recycling systems" and the muscular system of the body. According to the ALS Association:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Muscle twitching or tripping over carpeting edges, for example, are common symptoms of ALS. More advanced stages of the disease result in an inability to swallow, breathe, or talk. With the discovery of the cause of ALS, scientists can begin to develop drugs specifically meant to regulate or normalize the breakdown between the nervous system and the muscle system.

Currently, 30,000 Americans are afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s and 50% of patients die within three years since there is no treatment for the paralysis and other associated problems of the disease.