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Old 06-19-2007, 07:14 AM #1
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BobbyB BobbyB is offline
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BobbyB BobbyB is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Default ALS patient's family hopes for cure

ALS patient's family hopes for cure

June 19, 2007
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent

Carol Corey knows all too well the ravages of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
The Knox resident helped her husband care for her father-in-law as the disease gradually destroyed his body and claimed his life.

Today, she is watching out for her son, Eric, 21, who has been battling the disease since he was just 15. She said doctors have told her he is the youngest person on record diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Although little is known about the disease that affects relatively few people -- only about 5,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the ALS Association Web site -- even less is known about how it will affect someone so young.

"It has been so hard; we have been hit with a disease they don't know anything about," Corey said.

There is no cure for ALS. It is a neurodegenerative disease that usually attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and causes degeneration throughout the brain and spinal cord, according to the Web site.

Recent research looks promising, but little is out there now to ease the symptoms or delay the progress of the disease.

A common first symptom of ALS is a painless weakness in a hand, foot, arm or leg, which occurs in more than half of all cases. Other early symptoms include difficulty with speech, swallowing or walking.

For Eric, who did not want to be interviewed for this article, the disease started with numbness in his fingertips and toes. Corey said he has a slowly moving form of the disease, and it is unclear how his young age and strength may play a role in slowing its progression.

So little is known, just getting him properly diagnosed was difficult because none of his doctors expected to see ALS in someone so young.

Typically, the disease affects people between 40 and 70

years old, according to the

ALS Web site.

More advances in research and treatment for the disease have occurred in the past 10 years than since the disease was first diagnosed in 1869.

Stem cells and gene therapy appear the most promising treatments, but the research has a way to go before it can be viable for her son, Corey said. She remains hopeful that, through more research, a cure is not far off.

To that end, the family has frozen the stem cells of Corey's grandchild. Since the child was a family member, there is at least a 70 percent chance they will match Eric when needed.

"I think there's an answer out there," Corey said. "The diseases stem cells help or cure is just phenomenal."
http://www.post-trib.com/lifestyles/...family.article
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