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Motor neurone disease (MND), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a neurodegenerative disorder of unknown aetiology. Progressive motor weakness and bulbar dysfunction lead to premature death, usually from respiratory failure. Confirming the diagnosis may initially be difficult until the full clinical features are manifest. For all forms of the disease there is a significant differential diagnosis to consider, including treatable conditions, and therefore specialist neurological opinion should always be sought. Clear genetic inheritance has been demonstrated in a minority of patients with familial ALS but elucidation of the biological basis of genetic subtypes is also providing important information which may lead to treatments for sporadic forms of the disease. In the absence of curative or disease modifying therapy, management is supportive and requires a multidisciplinary approach. If, as seems likely, complex inherited and environmental factors contribute to the pathogenesis of MND, future treatment may involve a combination of molecular based treatments or restoration of cellular integrity using stem cell grafts.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Postgrad Med J

Publication Date

09/2002

Volume

78

Pages

513 - 519

Keywords

Forecasting, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Motor Neuron Disease, Syndrome