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What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. The average life span from diagnosis is two to five years.  There is no cure.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and degenerative disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. In ALS, the motor neurons deteriorate leading to muscle weakness, paralysis, atrophy and often spasticity. As this happens, the muscle tissues waste away because no movement is being stimulated. Other nerve cells, such as sensory neurons that bring information from sense organs to the brain, remain healthy. 


Anyone can get ALS, although it’s most common in men between the ages of 40 to 70, especially if they were professional athletes or served in the military. It affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities.

Who gets ALS?


In the United States, the disease is usually called Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS. Canada, South America, Belgium, Netherlands, and Israel also use the name "ALS". In France, ALS is known as Maladie de Charcot (Charcot’s Disease); and in the United Kingdom, Australia, and parts of Europe, ALS is referenced as motor neurone disease, or MND.

Are there other names for ALS?


In the United States, someone is diagnosed with ALS every ninety minutes, with about 5,600 diagnosed each year. "The incidence of ALS is close to that of multiple sclerosis and four times that of muscular dystrophy." ALS is considered an orphan disease because it affects a small percentage of the general population.

Is ALS common?



Currently, there is no effective therapeutic approved for use by the FDA that has been identified to stop the disease's progression or prevent onset. Rilutek® is a drug that has been approved for use in the treatment of ALS, however it offers a very small effect which has usually been described as a three-month life extension.

Is there a treatment or cure?


ALS is an abbreviation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Broken down, this means:

Amyotrophic means that muscles have lost their nourishment
Lateral refers to the sides of the spinal cord
Sclerosis means that the part of the spinal cord that is affected by the disease develops hardened, scarred tissue.

ALS is also known in some countries as MND, or motor neuron disease.

What does ALS stand for?


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