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.