AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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What Percentage of ALS is Genetic?

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Up to 90 percent of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) report that they have no family history of the disease. Now, new research has found approximately 17 percent of such ALS cases may be caused by a gene mutation, according to a study. Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a progressive neurological disease that takes away the ability of nerve cells to interact with the body’s muscles. It typically develops into complete paralysis of the body, including the muscles needed to speak, eat and breathe. There is no cure for ALS, and eventually the disease is fatal. It is called familial ALS when there is a clear family history of ALS. It is called sporadic ALS when there is no known genetic factor causing it. “You can’t tell familial ALS from sporadic ALS by the symptoms or how the disease develops, but it is also complicated to determine whether a person has inherited the genes for the disease,” said Summer Gibson, MD, of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

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