A premier center for ALS treatment and research
Programs that Save Lives
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.
As the disease progresses, neurons degenerate and muscles weaken and waste away, causing patients to lose strength and mobility throughout their bodies. Over time, patients lose the ability to speak, swallow and breathe. The disease typically leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis.
The Gregory W. Fulton ALS and Neuromuscular Disease Center was founded to improve both patient care and research for neuromuscular disorders, including:
- Muscular dystrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy
The clinic is a model for offering comprehensive care within a single center, giving convenience to patients and their family members and providing them with access to advanced clinical trials and promising research.
“The center is essentially a one-stop location for patients to receive all of their ALS care,” says Shafeeq Ladha, MD, director of the center and the Ira A. and Mary Lou Fulton chair in motor neuron disease. “It’s hard for people with ALS to travel, so having to go to different places for treatment has a big impact on their quality of life.”
Tenacious scientists perform pioneering ALS research
Scientists don’t yet know what causes ALS, and there is no cure. There is just one FDA-approved medication that slows disease progression and it is only marginally effective.
Barrow ALS researchers, led by Robert Bowser, PhD, are part of an international team that discovered a new gene mutation associated with ALS. The discovery that mutations in the Matrin 3 gene cause some cases of familial ALS is expected to open the door to new therapies for this neurodegenerative disease.
“Every gene we find takes us a step closer to uncovering why people develop this dreaded disease,” says Bowser, who is the research director and the John and Betty VanDenburgh chair in neuromuscular disease at the center.
Researchers at Barrow aim to answer: Why do some people develop ALS while others don’t? And why are treatment options more effective for some individuals than they are for others?
Much of the center’s clinical research focuses on the discovery of biomarkers. Identifying these markers will allow for a personalized approach to ALS treatment based on each person’s genetic or biochemical makeup.
Barrow scientists are inventive, driven and proud to pursue this research because they know it will improve outcomes for patients.
ALS patient living life to the fullest
Barrow scientists are inventive, driven and proud to pursue this research because they know it will improve outcomes for patients. Read Doug’s story to find out how it already is.View Story