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 Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb
19.05.2017 | 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: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>