Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (aka ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a devastating disease that is nearly always fatal within 5 years of onset. The symptoms are similar to many other neuropathies beginning with weakening of the limbs, leading to partial or total paralysis and an increasing difficulty in breathing. Due to similarities in their symptomatic progression is it difficult to differentiate ALS from several other disease mimics (motor neuropathy, progressive muscle atrophy, etc.) until it is too late for intervention to have any real effect. With an earlier diagnosis, and therefore earlier intervention, current clinical care may significantly increase the lifespan of these patients and additional drug therapies that are likely to be introduced to the market could be more rapidly initiated. Not only might life expectancy increase, but patients would be given the chance for a higher quality of life for a longer duration due to more rapid inclusion of the patient into multi-disciplinary care treatment offered at specialized ALS clinics.
The incidence of ALS is approximately 6,000 cases per year in the US and nearly 120,000 globally*. Progression is rapid with ~50% of individuals dying within 18 months and over 75% dying within 5 years; ALS is responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths annually. ALS usually strikes those over 50 years of age and has a slightly higher prevalence in men than in women. People of all races, age groups, ethnicities and geographic locations are susceptible to the disease, though Caucasians are more likely to present with ALS than any other group.