Neurologists Call for ALS Registry to Research Environmental Toxins Associated with Disease
Thomas R. Collins, Neurology Today
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) celebrates its 50th anniversary, neurologists say that heightened awareness of, and research into, environmental factors contributing to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is overdue; they are calling on federal officials to require that all ALS cases be reported to a national database.
Eva L. Feldman, MD, PhD, FAAN, director of the ALS Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan, who has led research connecting pesticides to ALS incidence and severity, wrote a recent editorial for JAMA Neurology in which she urged clinicians to sharpen their focus on the disease's environmental triggers. She also underscored the need for a more complete data set on the disease by way of mandatory reporting.
“Those that treat, research, and advocate for persons with ALS will not be silenced, and it is with this impetus that we focus our attention on the environmental factors that influence ALS,” she wrote, with co-author Stephen Goutman, MD, MS, associate professor of neurology at University of Michigan. “This is of critical importance because we need to better elucidate ALS pathologic mechanisms to identify modifiable disease risks to lower incidence and develop treatments to improve patient outcomes.”
Dr. Feldman said the EPA anniversary made it “a good time for a call for action.”
“Our concern is that we're in certainly no better condition now,” she said in an interview. “If anything, the environmental conditions have deteriorated in the last 50 years.”