McMaster University

Demystifying Medicine
Seminar Series

Can we fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes motor neuron death leading to paralysis and death during midlife. In ALS patients, the brain can no longer properly send signals through the motor neurons to control the muscles, making it difficult for a person the talk, swallow, and breathe. The average life expectancy of ALS patients ranges from 2 to 5 years. However, there are exceptions to this, as demonstrated by Stephen Hawking who lived for 55 years following his diagnosis with ALS. This video identifies what ALS is and the key molecular targets for therapy to delay its progression. Primarily, it focuses on the pathogenic mechanisms behind ALS and examines the currently approved drug therapies, specifically riluzole and edaravone.

— Video by Robert Kim, Jessica Shih, Henry Jiang, Meera Karunakaran and Simran Grewal

References

  • Abe, K., Aoki, M., Tsuji, S., Itoyama, Y., Sobue, G., Togo, M., ... & Takahashi, F. (2017). Safety and efficacy of edaravone in well defined patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology, 16(7), 505-512.
  • ALS Association, A. (2014, July 7). Patients and Families Tell Us Their ALS Stories. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  • ALS Canada. (2018, October 30). Health Canada has approved Radicava (edaravone), a second ALS treatment for Canadians. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  • Bellingham, M. C. (2011). A review of the neural mechanisms of action and clinical efficiency of riluzole in treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: what have we learned in the last decade? CNS neuroscience & Therapeutics, 17(1), 4-31.
  • Chiò, A., Logroscino, G., Hardiman, O., Swingler, R., Mitchell, D., Beghi, E., ... & Eurals Consortium. (2009). Prognostic factors in ALS: a critical review. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 10(5-6), 310-323.
  • Doble, A. (1996). The pharmacology and mechanism of action of riluzole. Neurology, 47(6 Suppl 4), 233S-241S.
  • Gordon, P. H. (2011). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. CNS drugs, 25(1), 1-15.
  • Hugon, J. (1996). Riluzole and ALS therapy. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (1946), 146(9-10), 185-187.