I remember sitting in Cell Biology nearly 15 years ago at the University of Northern Colorado, and my professor, gently stroking his beard as he described a neuron. He told us that there are 3 kinds of neurons in the body; motor, sensory and interneurons. Motor neurons control mainly the muscles and glands and connect directly to the spinal cord. Sensory neurons respond to outside stimuli and signal the interneurons to make a plan and have the motor neurons carry that plan out. Does this sound a bit difficult? For a healthy person it is, for someone suffering from a disease like ALS, it is nearly impossible.
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the famed baseball player who suffered from this debilitating disease. ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disorder, which means that the neurons in the brain and spinal cord that are used to keep us going, are attacked and degenerate. A person who is diagnosed with ALS will become weaker and weaker, eventually losing the ability to move themselves, talk, eat and eventually breath. ALS steals beautiful lives away daily, and those diagnosed with this disease have a lifespan of about 2-5 years, however, some survive longer.
Up until recently, there was little hope for those diagnosed with ALS. A patient would be placed on the lone drug available to alleviate symptoms and then wait out their time as their body stopped working. There is still no cure for ALS, however, scientists are working diligently to develop therapies for this disease. From clinical trials, to new drugs to protein therapies, a lot is being done to help those that are afflicted with ALS.
So, why am I sharing all this information. Well, because I am a scientist. I believe in science and I believe in helping people with science. ALS is extremely underfunded in part because it is fatal and up until recently scientists did not think that neurons could regenerate. This thinking has changed and laboratories around the world are having amazing success with neurogenesis! The ALS Therapy Development Institute is a non-profit that is working to raise $50,000 to put directly into research and specifically into the AT-1501 drug that could potentially change the trajectory of this horrid disease! Every single penny counts and you can donate yours here.
I am teaming up with the ALS Therapy Institute to do my part to share this campaign and hope that we can raise the $50,000 needed to move the AT-1501 drug into clinical trials and save some lives! Take a moment, click on the links and donate whatever you can. Each donation is being matched up to $25,000, so lets come together to make ALS a thing of the past!