Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States. The National Organization for Rare Diseases estimates that 5,000 more people are diagnosed each year. And, according to a recent article, military veterans may be at a greater risk to develop it than the general population. To learn more about ALS, click here.
The article discusses military veteran, Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Schretzman, and how he was diagnosed with ALS in 2015. This happened less than a year after he ended a twenty-four year career in the army.
Schretzman didn’t take this lying down: after his diagnosis, he and his wife, Stacy, formed a movement called Team Schretzman. It not only supports Schretzman in his fight, but also supports medical research, other ALS organizations, and research working toward treating and finding a cure.
Schretzman is also doing important work with a company called Cytokinetics, a pharmaceutical company that develops muscle activators. It also researches diseases that compromise the muscles.
Last month, Cytokinetics and Schretzman published a video called “Behind ALS: Soldier On, The Chuck Schretzman Story.” It is the first documentary short in a series called “Behind ALS.” It hopes to raise awareness of the disease and highlight the research being done to treat patients.
Cytokinetics is also currently testing a drug called tirasemtiv, a fast skeletal muscle troponin activator. The drug is a potential treatment for ALS and other diseases causing muscle weakness and fatigue. It activates the fast skeletal muscle troponin complex and raises its sensitivity to calcium. This is important because calcium is a key regulator of muscle contraction. This increases skeletal muscle force and power, and also delays muscle fatigue.
Since there are only a few other treatments for the actual disease, the development of this drug could bring real relief to patients.
Tirasemtiv is currently in a large phase three clinical trial. It is measuring the drug’s effect on respiratory function and muscle strength in ALS patients. Results are expected soon, in the fourth quarter of this year.
Work from companies and individuals alike is so important in the constant, but persistent fight against ALS.