Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) causes degeneration of motor neurons (controlling the muscles), leading to muscle wasting and loss of voluntary control, and eventually the inability to breath and death. It occurs in approximately 1 to 4 per 100,000 individuals. It is estimated that more than 30,000 American are living with ALS. Each year, 6,400 people are diagnosed in the U.S.
- There is no cure, so the disease is fatal.
- Average survival is 2 to 4 years after diagnosis.
- There are two types of ALS: around 90% of ALS cases are not inherited, termed sporadic, while 10% are inherited, called familial.
- Gene mutations linked to ALS have been identified in 70% of patients who inherited the disease.
- The cause and mechanism of ALS remains unknown in most cases.