Anti-Psychotic Drug Could Prolong The Lives of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patients

According an article from CityNews Toronto, an anti-psychotic medication is undergoing clinical trials in the treating of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In other studies, the treatment has shown to help slow down the neurological degeneration that is present in the disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, causes the death of neurons responsible for voluntary muscle movement. The disease is characterized by stiff muscles, muscle twitching, and escalating weakness as muscles get smaller. ALS patients may have difficulty with the most basic movement and eventually have trouble speaking and swallowing. The person ultimately dies when the muscles responsible for breathing begin to fail. There is no cure for the disease and little real options for treatment currently. Most people die withing two to four years after the disease begins. The cause of ALS is unknown in most cases. To learn more about this disease, click here.

Cliff Barr is one of the participants in the study. At 70 years old, Bar hopes that he can prolong his life with the experimental treatment. Diagnosed this past October, Bar is already experiencing severe muscles weakness and movement loss. The treatment being tested in the trial is called pimozide. The drug was able to successful slow down the progression of the disease in worms, zebra fish, and and mice. The drug was also trialed with human subjects for six weeks a couple of years ago, and was also effective then.

The treatment is not being touted as a cure; experts say it is only a way to prolong the patients’ lives. The drug works by addressing a failure in electrical signaling that occurs as a part of ALS; it won’t prevent the neurons from being destroyed, but it should hopefully keep them functioning longer.

For Barr, participating in the trial was a gamble; as a double-blind study, only half of the participants will actually receive the treatment. However, at this point, Barr really has nothing left to lose. Doctors have already told him that he had anywhere from three to five years to live. Time is all he has left, and bargaining for a little more if it doesn’t sound like a bad idea.


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