There's new hope for patients fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Scientists at John Hopkins are testing a new form of gene therapy they say has nearly doubled the life expectancy in mice with that type of illness. The therapy uses a growth factor gene called IGF-1, which is designed to protect the nerve cells.
Lou Gehrig's Disease, also called ALS, causes the nerves that control muscles to diet, leading to paralysis and eventual death. But mice that got the treatment were stronger and lived twice as long compared to mice that got a placebo. It's estimated that 30,000 people are living with ALS. Scientists say they're planning to test this theory on humans next year.
Researchers say the therapy is the first to extend an animals' survival when given after symptoms develop. The therapy is wrapped in a cold virus and is injected directly into the muscle where it migrates into nerves. The scientists say they are planning a study in people which they hope to be able to begin in the next year. The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the Salk Institute and Johns Hopkins and is reported in the August 8th issue of Science.