Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a progressive type of neurodegenerative disorder that impacts nerve cells located in the spinal cord and brain.
ALS causes motor neurons, which are responsible for your ability to voluntarily control your muscles, to degenerate. As these neurons degenerate, the body’s ability to control muscles diminishes, resulting in significant changes to the person’s quality of life.
Who is at risk of getting ALS, and what can be done?
ALS Risk Factors
Unfortunately, people from all walks of life can develop ALS. However, there are some risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing ALS:
People between the ages of 40 and 70 are most commonly diagnosed with ALS, although the highest incidences occur in individuals who are between 55 and 75.
Men tend to be slightly more likely to develop ALS compared to women. The gap does narrow with age, so by the time individuals are in their 70s and 80s, the risk is equal between genders.
Between 5 and 10% of cases of ALS are passed down through families, known as “familial ALS” (FALS). In cases of FALS, the disease is inherited through specific gene mutations, which increases the risk for family members.
The remaining 90-95% of cases are considered sporadic, meaning there is no known family history of ALS. Researchers are actively studying the risk factors that contribute to the genetic and sporadic development of ALS.
New findings suggest that military veterans, particularly those who served during the Gulf War (1990-1991), have an increased risk of developing ALS. The reason for this remains undetermined, but some scientists speculate that ALS could be connected to the chemicals that veterans are exposed to, extreme physical activity, or traumatic injuries sustained during battle.
Smoking is one potential risk factor for the development of ALS, particularly in women. Researchers are still studying whether this is due to nicotine, oxidative stress, or other tobacco toxins.
Regenerative Medicine and ALS
Regenerative medicine is one option for addressing ALS symptoms, as it focuses on repairing or replacing damaged cells and tissues throughout the body.
Some promising areas of regenerative medicine as a treatment for ALS include:
- Stem cell therapy, which is the use of stem cells to replace motor neurons damaged by ALS.
- Gene therapy, a treatment that targets specific genetic mutations responsible for familial ALS.
- Neuroprotective therapies, which are designed to preserve existing motor neurons’ functioning in order to prevent more degeneration.
As researchers continue to study ALS and ways to treat or manage it, promising treatments that aim to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life are emerging.This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for ALS, also known as Stem cell treatment for ALS. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.