Lou Gehrig’s Disease Put into the National Spotlight Following New York Yankee’s Famous Farewell Speech
Major milestones in scientific research bring hope to people living with ALS today
July 1, 2013
Nearly 74 years ago, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame legend Lou Gehrig stood before his legions of fans at Yankee Stadium and declared himself the luckiest man alive. His public battle with the disease that now bears his name, which is also clinically known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or by its more common acronym ALS, was thrust into the national spotlight for the first time that day.
Since Lou Gehrig’s death just less than two years after his famous farewell speech, the fight to find a cure for ALS has born just one treatment that extends life by a few months. In recent years, scientists have been unlocking valuable new data in their efforts to discover what causes ALS and how it can be better treated and one day cured. Modern science has allowed a deeper investigation into the role of genetics and ALS.
“For decades, progress to eradicate ALS was very slow and left people with ALS and their families with little hope for a cure,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. “Now that the pace of science is clearly headed in a positive, more hopeful direction, we will continue to support the work of promising investigators until we can finally say we have won the fight against ALS.”
Below is a listing of major research findings that have occurred during the past 20 years.
Decades of Discovery
- 1993— Discovery of the ALS gene, SOD1, responsible for 20 percent of all inherited ALS cases.
- 2009—The ALS6 gene is found to be responsible for about 5% of all inherited ALS cases.
- 2010—The first clinical trial of ISIS-SOD1, explores a new drug that specifically targets the SOD1 gene.
- 2011— The groundbreaking discovery of a genetic abnormality is, to date, the most common known cause of ALS and FTD.
- 2011—The recent finding involving the study of familial ALS revealed how two proteins work together to buttress the survival of motor neurons.