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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: clinical perspectives

Authors Haringer V, Gibson S

Received 9 January 2015

Accepted for publication 19 February 2015

Published 15 April 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 19—31


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lise Aagaard

Verena C Haringer, Summer B Gibson

Clinical Neurosciences Center, Department of Neurology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common motor neuron disease in adults. It is a rapidly advancing neurodegenerative disease leading to progressive paralysis and death, with a mean time of survival from onset of symptoms to death of 2–5 years. The pathophysiology of ALS remains poorly understood. The only US Food and Drug Administration–approved therapy for ALS is riluzole, a glutamatergic neurotransmission inhibitor, with modest benefits on survival. Many other agents have shown promising results in preclinical trials, but have yet to show benefit in human clinical trials. This review gives an overview of drugs that have been studied in clinical trials and their reported outcomes. This also includes more recent treatment strategies, including antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and stem cells. ASOs have the potential to target genes known to cause ALS by silencing their function. Many clinical trials are under way using these therapies. Different kinds of stem cells have been used in an attempt to either replace the lost motor neurons or to improve their metabolic supply and thus prolong their death. Given the limited therapeutic treatment options to date, the most important approach to improve the patient's quality of life remains symptom-based management. Additionally, we give an overview of the current treatment offered in multidisciplinary clinics.

Keywords: motor neuron disease, symptom management, treatment and experimental therapies, stem cells, antisense oligonucleotides, clinical trials

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