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ALS Facts and Statistics
Many amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – patients can live more productive lives with the illness because there’s a body of research into better ways of managing the disease. Improvements in nutrition and breathing techniques, for example, increase survival. Some 50 percent of patients live at least two years after diagnosis; 20 percent live five years or more and up to 10 percent survive more than 10 years.
Here are some quick reference facts about ALS:
- • Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 75, with the majority after age 60, although it can occur at a younger age.
- • The disease is relatively rare; the incidence is roughly 2 people per 100,000 per year.
- • Most surveys hold that ALS is more common in men than women, though that gap may be closing.
- • The incidence of ALS is five times higher than Huntington’s disease and about half that of multiple sclerosis.
- • While there’s no cure, riluzole therapy improves ALS survival for typical patients by a short period of time, around four to six months.
- • ALS occurs throughout the world with no obvious racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
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Solange Brown, PhD
One of the hallmarks of ALS is the death of upper motor neurons in the cerebral cortex. However, it is not known whether more subtle changes in cortical circuits precede upper motor neuron degeneration. Dr. Brown will study the excitatory and inhibitory neurons of the motor cortex, and their patterns of connectivity, to determine whether functional changes in these circuits represent early events in the development of the disease. The goal of this work is to identify primary events in the disease process that can suggest new preventative strategies and therapeutic targets in ALS.