Ultra-Sounding out ALS

Much of the research on ALS tends to focus on treatment; but in order to treat ALS it first needs to be diagnosed — and the earlier the better so that patients can get into clinical trials as soon as possible. The ALS Therapy Development Institute’s blog recently highlighted the potential for neuromuscular ultrasound (NMUS) to one day noninvasively diagnose ALS. With the advent of higher resolution NMUS, scientists could be able to detect key muscle changes in people with ALS. NMUS needs to be standardized and clinically confirmed, but one day it could be used to aid diagnosis along with more invasive electrophysiological methods like EMG, which is also under development to enable earlier diagnosis. For more on current research into the potential of NMUS see the recent blog post here. But NMUS may not be the only new diagnostic in town. In 2011, Prize4Life awarded The $1M ALS Biomarker Prize to Dr. Seward Rutkove for his development of a potential ALS biomarker technology called electrical impedance myography (EIM). EIM sensitively measures the flow of a small electrical current through muscle tissue. By comparing the size and speed of the electrical current between normal tissue and tissue affected by ALS, EIM can accurately measure the progression of the disease. However, EIM may also one day be useful as an ALS diagnostic. EIM is currently being tested in an ongoing trial to “study its reliability and ability to differentiate ALS patients from healthy and disease controls.” Check out ClinicalTrials.gov to find out more about the study.

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