Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Motor neurone disease: devastating, mysterious and few treatments available

15.06.2007
Motor neurone disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a degenerative disease of unknown cause which causes patients to lose basic motor functions and has a devastating effect on them and their families. But work is ongoing on new treatments to prolong life expectancy and raise quality of life for patients, say the authors of a Seminar published in this week’s edition of The Lancet.

And soldiers, Italian professional footballers and the Chamorro population of the Pacific Island of Guam have been reported to be more at risk of MND than the general population.

Professor Douglas Mitchell, Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Preston, UK and Professor Gian Borasio, Motor Neurone Research Group, Department of Neurology, Munich University, Germany, comprehensively reviewed literature published on MND since 2000 to prepare the Seminar.

MND is one of the major neurodegenerative diseases alongside Alzeheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It is a progressive disorder that involves degeneration of motor functions at all levels as the motor neurones of the nervous system are destroyed.

The authors: “The course of the disorder is inexorably progressive, with 50% of patients dying within three years of onset.”

Symptoms generally begin in one or more of three regions – the throat/jaw area (bulbar), the arm area (cervical) or the leg area (lumbar). Bulbar-onset patients can struggle to swallow, have slurred speech, and/or facial weakness. Cervical-onset patients have problems with the use of their arms and hands and lumbar-onset patients have difficulty with walking.

Progression of the disease is marked by loss of speech, chronic nocturnal hypoventilation, daytime fatigue, general loss of strength and motor functions. Up to 73% of MND patients complain of pain. Psychosocial care is also vital for patients, with 100% of patients in one study mentioning family as important to their quality of life.

Men are more likely to get MND than women (approximate ratio 1.6:1) and MND has been more common in certain populations, such as the Chamorro population on the Pacific island of Guam. It has been suggested that this is because the diet of these people includes the fruit bat, which feeds on cycad seeds. These seeds contain methylaminoalanine, which is thought to have a role in MND. An increased risk of MND has also been reported in military personnel and Italian professional football players.

Heavy-metal toxic effects, and environmental and occupational exposures, have also been proposed as causes of MND. But the authors say: “Despite extensive research, the disorder remains poorly understood in terms of a unifying causal hypothesis, and, indeed, might turn out to be a common end-stage phenotype of diverse causes.”

Many treatments have been tried for MND, but few have had success. Riluzole is the only drug licensed to treat MND, and has been shown to extend the lives of MND patients by an average of three months.

The authors are sceptical about the use of stem cell treatment, saying much work needs to be done before stem-cell treatment can ever be regarded as even an experimental therapeutic treatment. An earlier trial of injecting stem-cells into the spinal cord proved ineffective in relieving MND symptoms.

Use of viral vectors for drug delivery could be a pioneering MND treatment, since it extended the life expectancy of mice it was tested in by 30%. The need to deliver disease-modifying treatments direct to the site of disease process – i.e. the motor neurone – is a recurring theme of treatment discussions.

The authors conclude: “Because of the shortage of satisfactory disease-modifying treatments, early diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has traditionally not been imperative. It will, however, be increasingly important for any attempts to develop more effective treatments.”

Tony Kirby | alfa
Further information:
http://www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/clusters/thelancet/press_office/Seminar.pdf

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>