ALS & Its Treatment - by Wu Medical Center

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) belonging to a group of disorders known as Motor Neuron Diseases (MND). It is characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons. ALS is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are able to control, such as those in the arms, legs, and face). The incidence of ALS 5-8/100,000. Most of the patients developed the symptoms when their age reached over forty. The patient would begin to present weak symptoms and with their age increasing, the incidence increases as well. Some ALS patients may have symptoms of ALS plus dementia or Parkinson.

The most common symptoms seen in ALS patients are when one of the side fingers has an awkward fine motor, stiff fingers and/or mild weakness of hand and muscles atrophy of hand. Then the disease progresses gradually after the first symptom. The patient will then suffer from weakness in the upper limbs and lower limbs, slurred speech, swallowing difficulty and breathing difficulty. The patient could also present signs of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Regardless of the occurring pattern and developmental way of the disease, the disease progressed inexorably. More than half of the patients lost the ability of activity in the three years after the onset of the disease. The patients suffered from respiratory failure and the ability to swallow became difficult 90% of the patients lost motor function completely within 6 years. The patients suffered from respiratory failure and circulatory failure and failure of other various organs.


The disease mainly damages the upper and lower motor neurons, anterior horn of the spinal cord, brainstem motor nuclei and the upper and lower part of the neuron in the cerebral cortex. Generally, the large nerve cells were shown to be damaged early on. After the cells disappeared, they were replaced by astrocytes and microglia cells. So, there were often no abnormal changes in early MRI examinations.


There is no specific treatment plan for any type of motor neuron disease; there is only a type of supportive treatment. Current progress: With the development of biotechnology, using cell technology to control the ALS disease is developing too. WMC found that:

1. Cells have a good therapeutic reaction to such diseases.

2. ALS has specific characteristics, such as nerve demyelination and gliocyte replaced and proliferative. This provides basis for targeting a location.

3. ALS patients are generally seen to have motor neuron loss of lamina propria, which provides anatomy bracket for stem cell. At the same time, this supports both cells homing differentiation.

WMC believes that drug control and physical training play an important role in cell repair for patients will ALS undergoing treatment.

Authors: Drs. Li-Ke Wu, Xiaojuan Wang, Bo Cheng, Susan Chu, Shuangshuang Liu and Fang Peng

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