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LSUHSC's England plays key role in developing new ALS treatment guidelines

New Orleans, LA Dr. John England, Professor and Chairman of Neurology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, analyzed research findings and was responsible for the quality and accuracy of evidence analysis and the conclusions of the studies resulting in new guidelines for treating Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The guidelines will be published in the October 13, 2009 issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The guidelines recommend the use of the drug riluzole, the only FDA-approved drug for ALS, to slow the progression of the disease. Assisted-breathing devices and the use of a PEG feeding tube may increase longevity and quality of life. Botulin toxin B may be used to treat drooling if oral medications are not effective. And the guidelines recommend screening patients for behavioral or thinking problems because they commonly occur with this disease and may interfere with treatment choices. Early enrollment in a multidisciplinary ALS clinic is advised because access to specialized treatments may also increase survival and quality of life.

"These new guidelines provide specific, evidence-based recommendations for the care of patients with ALS," notes Dr. England. "Although we do not yet have a cure for this disease, these guidelines identify several treatments that can help people with ALS live longer and better lives."

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, ALS is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. As many as 20,000 Americans have ALS, and an estimated 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year. ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected. ALS most commonly strikes people between 40 and 60 years of age, but younger and older people can also develop the disease. Men are affected more often than women. In 90-95% if the cases, the disease occurs apparently at random with no clearly associated risk factors.


Contact: Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

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