Why did Stephen Hawking live so long with ALS?

We’ll talk about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, tomorrow. It’s a pretty fast-progressing disease of motor neurons, with most patients dying within 5 years.

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21, and he lived until the age of 76 (he died in 2018). What?? Here’s an article from Scientific American that talks a bit about some of the reasons he may have beaten the odds like this.

Also – there is new research showing that inherited cases of ALS are caused by buildup of a toxic protein called SPOP within neurons. AND there are drugs that can inhibit or get rid of this protein (in mice, but hopefully soon in humans too). This research is so exciting, because it may lead to greater understanding of what goes on in the sporadic cases of ALS, which are much more common than the inherited versions. There is hope!

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