Genetics Project

Disease: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

What Is ALS?

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurological disease that affects a person's nerve cells. It specifically targets cells that control voluntary actions.
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How is ALS Caused/What gene is it linked to?

ALS is usually caused by genetic mutations in an individual, but when passed down, it is passed down by an x-linked dominant trait. This means that a mother and/or father must have at least one dominant allele for a child to be able to inherit it.

What Are The Symptoms of ALS?

Some early symptoms of ALS include cramps, slurred or nasal speech, and difficulty chewing or swallowing food. Some later symptoms of ALS include not being able to walk, use hands or arms, or get out of bed without help because of no control over the voluntary muscles. People with ALS start losing the ability to breath without support when the diaphragm and chest start to fail.

How is ALS Diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with ALS, people must show signs of both upper and lower neuron damage, and the damage cannot be attributed to other causes. As the symptoms of ALS are similar to the symptoms of other diseases, tests must be performed to make sure a person actually has ALS.

Who is more prone to ALS?

ALS is more common among White males and people 60-69 years old. Hispanics are less likely to get ALS than other people.

How Many People are Diagnosed With ALS?

In the U.S., approximately 6,400 people are diagnosed with ALS with every year. The incidence rate for ALS is 2 for every 100,000 people.

What Are Some Possible Treatments for ALS?

Although there has been no confirmed cure for ALS, people with ALS can use the medication Riluzole to reduce damage to motor neurons, prolong survival by several months, and extend time before ventilation support is needed. However, Riluzole does not reverse any damage already done to the motor neurons.

What is the Life Expectancy Rate for ALS?

The life expectancy rate for ALS is two to five years, but some people can live for longer than five years.

Who Are Some Famous People With ALS?

Some famous people with ALS are Lou Gehrig(Famous baseball player), Stephen Hawking(physicist), and Mary Valastro Pinto(Mother of Buddy Valastro, star of Cake Boss).
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