Lou Gehrig's Disease
Biology Genetic Disease Project
What is Lou Gehrig's Disease?
Causes of Lou Gehrig's Disease
1) Gene Mutation - gene mutations can lead to a form of ALS that is inherited. This inherited form is very similar to the non-inherited form of this disease.
2) Chemical Imbalance - patients that suffer with Lou Gehrig's Disease tend to have higher levels of glutamate in their spinal fluid. Glutamate is a chemical that sends messages to the brain and too much of this chemical is often results in damaged or dead nerve cells.
3) Disorganized Immune Response - this is when a persons immune system attacks the nerve cells in his/her body, killing the cells.
4) Protein Mishandling - proteins within the cells may be misused and this leads to an increase in unusual forms of proteins in the cells, killing them.
How is ALS inherited?
How is ALS treated?
How is Lou Gehrig's Disease Diagnose?
- Electrodiagnostic tests
- Blood and Urine tests
- Spinal tap
- Myelogram of cervical spine
- Muscle and nerve biopsy
- Neurological examination
Genetic counseling is an option for ALS, but it does not provide much help in diagnosing the disease because most people who have ALS did not inherit it. Genetic testing is only useful for the small percentage of people that have a strong family history of the disease.
Who is more likely to get ALS?
- Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 40-70.
- 20% more likely to happen in men
- Military veterans have an increased chance of getting ALS.
- 93% of patients in the US are Caucasian
In this instance both the mother and the father are carrier's of the gene that can cause ALS. The chance that their child will be affected is 25%.
This pedigree shows the possible offspring of a male with ALS and a female without.
Graph showing causes of ALS
The majority of this chart represents the random causes of ALS. This graph states that 10-15% of ALS cases have a strong family history of Lou Gehrig's disease.
What did I learn?
ALS nerve and muscle
This is what an ALS-affected nerve and muscle look like compared to a normal nerve and muscle. Notice how the nerve is shriveled and the muscle is significantly smaller.
Lou Gehrig was a Yankee baseball player who was inducted into the baseball hall-of-fame. In the 1930s he was diagnosed with ALS.
Stephen Hawking is one of the most well-know cases of Lou Gehrig's disease. He studied physics and cosmology at Oxford and Cambridge. At the age of 21, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS. He has said, "however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at."