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Neurol Neurochir Pol. 2001;35(1 Suppl):41-50.

Pharmacological treatment of ALS.

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Department of Neurology, University of Ulm, Germany.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease resulting from chronic and selective loss of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. In 1993, the etiology of ALS has been clarified for a small sub-group of patients with an autosomal-dominant form of this disease. About 10 percent of familial ALS patients have been associated with more than 50 mutations of the gene of the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Mutations in the SOD1 gene account for 1 percent of all ALS patients and have therefore limited epidemological and clinical relevance; however, they are of fundamental importance for the understanding of the ALS pathogenesis, and the development of neuroprotective strategies. In two double-blind and placebo-controlled studies the membrane stabilisator riluzole has been shown to be the first neuroprotective compound with a significant effect on survival of ALS patients. The neuroprotective approach reduced therapeutic nihilism in ALS and is a first step in the treatment of this devastating disease.

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