ALS Research Tips

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Has there been a lot of research completed on ALS?

ALS Research: An Overview

Research into diseases of the nervous system has not been as popular as research for heart disease or cancer. However since the 1960s, numerous scientific papers were published on the possible causes, diagnosis, and treatment of ALS. So far, Rilutek is the only drug, which has been approved as a result of this research.

How does Phase III clinical research trials differ from Phase I and Phase II?

An Explanation Of Clinical Trials

There are four types of clinical research trials conducted on new drugs or medication. The first type of clinical research trial is known as a Phase I trial. It is completed to test the effect of a new drug on a small percent of the population, and is done on healthy individuals. The purpose of Phase I trial is to confirm a new drug's safety for human consumption.

Phase II clinical research trials are more beneficial to ALS treatment than Phase I research trials. The new drug will be tested in ALS patients to future determine its safety, and the benefits of the drug.

Phase III clinical trials are completed in specific ALS research facilities using a large number of ALS patients. Phase III clinical trials will investigate whether the new drug actually possesses the benefits found in Phase II. These benefits are tested against a placebo or another treatment, which is already in place. If Phase III trials are successful, the new drug is prepared for FDA approval. FDA approval is a lengthy process, and there is no guarantee any new drug will be approved.

Phase IV clinical research trials occur after the new drug is approved by the FDA, and during this phase, the pharmaceutical company must monitor and test the safety of the drug in the general population.

Should I consider participating in ALS Research?

Participating In ALS Research

For anyone diagnosed with ALS, and who would like to participate in ALS research, it is recommended asking your neurologist about the benefits and safety associated with enrolling in a particular clinical research trial.

By enrolling in clinical research trials, people suffering from ALS will be able to help in the process of finding a cure for their disease, and the people who will later be diagnosed.

Another added benefit of participating in ALS research is the ability to be able to test new drugs beforehand with a ‘front seat' to potential new treatment. So ask your neurologist about participating, before you discard or accept any experimental medication.

My doctor has prescribed Rilutek. How does this drug function?

Research On Rilutek

Rilutek was designed by the pharmaceutical company Aventis Pharma. The FDA approved it in December 1995, with the generic name of Riluzole. During its clinical research trials, people with ALS took the drug for a thirteen to eighteen month period.

Rilutek works on a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances nerves use to transmit impulses from one nerve cell to the next. A popular theory believes the accumulation in the amount of glutamate causes the death of nerve cells. Rilutek functions to block the amount of glutamate produced, and gives protection to the nerve cell. However, the whole process of how the drug acts to block glutamate or protect nerve cells is unknown.

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Mary White