Navigation Links
Lithium of No Benefit in ALS, Study Finds

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new study appears to dash hopes that the psychiatric drug lithium can benefit patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The investigation involving 171 people with ALS was stopped early, in November 2009, because of high dropout rates from death, side effects or because patients thought the drug was ineffective.

ALS -- sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease after the N.Y. Yankee who died of the condition -- is a progressive nervous system disorder that causes weakness in muscles, including those controlling breathing and swallowing. Median survival is three years, and only one drug -- riluzole -- is approved for ALS treatment in the United States.

Interest in lithium, which is often used to treat bipolar disorder, increased after a small Italian study was published two years ago, suggesting a beneficial effect for ALS patients, said Dr. Adriano Chio, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Torino, Italy. In that study, lithium was thought to have prolonged survival of 16 ALS patients, Chio said.

How might lithium have helped?

"Lithium could have an effect on one of the mechanisms supposedly related to the motor neuron degeneration in ALS, the accumulation of pathological proteins in the neuron," said Chio, who led the new study, noting subsequent research has not confirmed this effect.

In the new study, published in the Aug. 17 issue of Neurology, the drop-out rate, at 68 percent, was two times higher than the drop-out rate reported by previous trials, Chio said.

All participants received lithium, but in two different doses, and the drug was not well-tolerated by either group. Patients died or lost their autonomy at the same rate in both groups.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Carmel Armon of Tufts University said one limitation of the Chio study, which Chio acknowledges, is that it didn't use a true placebo, but rather different doses. Other ongoing studies that are comparing the active drug to placebo may give the definitive answers, Armon said.

"This study [by Chio] shows there are toxic doses of lithium," said Lucie Bruijn, chief scientist for the ALS Association in Washington, D.C.

"We knew lithium has to be monitored carefully in terms of dose," Bruijn said. "What's shown here [in the new study] is a toxic level in some cases and not a strong benefit."

Even at what was termed "subtherapeutic doses," the lithium was poorly tolerated, Chio found. All 71 patients reported at least one adverse event, some as serious as heart disturbance, cerebral hemorrhage or deep vein blood clots.

Chio said two other trials are assessing the effect of lithium in ALS, but he doubts any positive effect of lithium will be shown.

In the future, Chio added, stem cell therapy may prove useful for ALS.

More information

To learn more about ALS, visit the ALS Association.

SOURCES: Adriano Chio, M.D., associate professor, neurology, First Faculty of Medicine, University of Torino, Italy; Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., chief scientist, ALS Association, Washington, D.C.; Aug. 17, 2010, Neurology

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. No Evidence That Lithium Helps in ALS
2. 30 million women to benefit from health reform law
3. Researchers study benefits of white button mushrooms
4. Study finds patients benefit from thorough discussion of recommended operations
5. Society of Interventional Radiology advances global definition of specialty, benefits patients
6. Social Security Disability Benefits Can Be Crucial to Surviving With Spinal Cord Injury, Allsup Reports
7. Advocate Health Care Reports $462 Million in Community Benefits
8. Parkinson's Disease Patient Tells Personal Story to Benefit PD Research; Donates Book Proceeds to PD Charities
9. Mulago Positive Women's Network Announce Their "BONO" Bracelet Fundraiser to Benefit HIV+ Women in Uganda
10. Intensively lowering glucose: Possible benefits must be weighed against risks
11. Examining risks and benefits of alcohol consumption
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Lithium of No Benefit in ALS, Study Finds
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a Media Slicing Effect Plugin ... whole new perspective by using the title layers in ProSlice Levels to split-up ... Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. FCPX users can ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Many ... been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not only ... approach that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due to a possible ... often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away from a human ... but a necessary one in the event that lice have simply gotten out of control. ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... As ... with Magna Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine ... and returned to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom ... of success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can result ... more than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Consumers have taken ... regulators/payers have placed more emphasis on patient outcomes. ... support programs in the pharmaceutical industry have evolved ... Consequently, pharmaceutical companies are focusing on becoming more ... providing products and services that improve health. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. , June 24, ... GBT ), a biopharmaceutical company developing novel ... with significant unmet needs, today announced the closing ... 6,400,000 shares of common stock, at the public ... the shares in the offering were offered by ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 ... the addition of the " Global Markets for ... This report focuses on ... updated review, including its applications in various applications. The ... which includes three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, food ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: