Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Personal ALS Challenge


It is awesome to see the outpouring of gifts to back ALS research.  This topic is near and dear to me as my mother and her brothers died from this horrible disease.  There has never been a time when this topic hasn't been on my mind.

Not enough is known about this disease but here’s some information my wife came up with that I’d like to share for anyone who wants to be more informed.

Forms of ALS

Three classifications of ALS have been described:
·         Sporadic - the most common form of ALS in the United States - 90 to 95% of all cases.
·         Familial - occurring more than once in a family lineage (genetic dominant inheritance) accounts for a very small number of cases in the United States - 5 to 10% of all cases.
·         Guamanian - an extremely high incidence of ALS was observed in Guam and the Trust Territories of the Pacific in the 1950's.
The most common form of ALS in the United States is "sporadic" ALS. It may affect anyone, anywhere. "Familial" ALS (FALS) means the disease is inherited. Only about 5 to 10% of all ALS patients appear to have genetic or inherited form of ALS. In those families, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease.
There are several inheritance patterns, but the most common inheritance pattern for FALS is called autosomal dominant. Autosomal means that it is equally likely that a female or male would inherit the gene mutation for FALS because the gene is located on an autosome – a chromosome that both males and females share in common. Dominant refers to the fact that a person only needs one gene to have a mutation in a gene for FALS to have an increased risk for ALS. Someone who has FALS would have one copy of the gene with a mutation and one copy of the gene without a mutation. Therefore, a child born to someone who has FALS has a 50% chance to inherit the FALS gene mutation and conversely, a 50% chance to not inherit the FALS gene mutation. This 1 in 2, or 50% chance, comes from the fact that parents randomly pass on only one member of their gene pair, so that either the gene with the mutation will be passed on or the gene without the mutation will be passed on. Even though parents often feel responsible for their children's health, they have no control over which gene they pass on, just as their parent had no control which gene they passed onto their child. It is also important to remember that inheriting the gene for FALS in no way guarantees that a person will develop symptoms of ALS. Also, if a child does not inherit the gene mutation for ALS, they cannot pass it onto their children.

I’ve watched lots of water being dumped over people’s heads.  If this action brought ALS to a higher level of awareness, I’m all for it.  If this action caused people to donate to ALS research, I’m all for that too.

Although we’re in our rainy season in Colorado at the moment, we’ve experienced a decade or so of drought conditions across most of this state.  Seeing reservoirs in California and Oregon that were once full of water and they’re now not full, I’m inclined to save my water.

I’ll just donate to the cause. 






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