The ALS Association is the largest charity for people with Lou Gehrig's disease in the United States. Not only do they provide excellent patient provision through care takers and support groups, they are also the leading fundraiser for new research when it comes to ALS treatment and a possible cure. During the summer of 2014, the ALS Association's Ice Bucket Challenge went viral online and raised over 100 million dollars. This was the largest amount of contributions the fundraisers at ALS had ever seen. They were ecstatic! This boost in funding led to the research and development of three new treatments for Lou Gehrig's disease, one being Radicava, which will likely be available August of this year. Here's what you need to know:
- Radicava slows the progress of ALS by reducing oxidative stress in the body. ALS is essentially a slow reduction in the body's ability to function overall. This event leads to the shutdown of vital organs within the body. One of the first signs of ALS is the presence of oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between the presence of toxins in the body and the immune system's ability to detoxify. These effects will first manifest themselves as a general slowing of autoimmune abilities followed by the more sinister effects of ALS, such as major organ failure. Radicava offers a time out to these unfortunate realities. The new medication has been shown to slow oxidative stress, and most patients see a 33% reduction in the decline of their physical abilities. Additionally, all Radicava test patients had higher scores on the ALS Functional Rating Scale.
- First new medicine in 22 years. Because the origins of ALS are still terribly misunderstood, it is incredibly difficult to approve and test new medicines. Since the mid nineteenth century, our knowledge of what causes ALS has not kept up with other medical advances. Because of this, it is incredibly difficult to find funding for new treatments when legislatures do not understand the medicinal promise. The first and last drug to be approved for treatment of ALS was Riluzole, which slowed lung failure. Unfortunately, the relatively small benefit offered to ALS patients compared to its astronomical costs essentially relegated Riluzole to pipe dream status. The mystery surrounding its origins combined with a lack of funding lead to a two decade ASL treatment dry spell. However, after the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, three new treatments were presented to the FDA for approval. The first to reach the pharmaceutical market will be Radicava in August!
- Administered by infusion. At this point you're probably wondering how Radicava will be administered to patients. Is it overly intrusive or painful? Will it even be worth it? For those who participated in the testing of the drug, Radicava absolutely is. The treatment is administrated intravenously over a fourteen day period, followed by a fourteen day rest. After the initial treatment, patients will receive injections for ten out of every fourteen days. While this is a time-consuming treatment, this is the first ASL medication with legitimate promise for, not only extending the lives of those with Lou Gehrig's disease, but also improving their quality of life!
After so many years of failed treatments and questions surrounding the origins of ALS, Radicava's approval is a beacon of hope for patients and their loved ones.