There is a new clinical trial based on a double-blind study in Italy. Apparently lithium might significantly slow down the progression of ALS. In Italy, 16 test subjects took lithium and 22 controls took a placebo ( some of them along with their Rilutek – a drug I am taking now). 4 of the lithium patients were bulbar onset ( meaning the disease first presented in speech, swallowing or breathing which means shorter life expectancy) and 7 of the 22 controls were bulbar. All of the lithium-taking participants survived and stayed relatively stable over a period of 15 months, while there was definite decline in health in the control group, and 30% died (it’s not indicated how many of those who died were bulbar onset – that might be really important to know.)
Lithium was able to cause an increase in what are called Renshaw cells in the spinal cord thought to be involved in the disease process of ALS. Lithium also helps motor neurons get rid of “structures” within the neuron that cause damage and promotes a number of other processes that keeps motor neurons from dying.
The only drawback to the study is the small number of participants. That’s where I hope to come in. Clinical trials will begin all over the US in the next month or so and I’m an ideal candidate – limb onset as opposed to bulbar, young, in good shape before I got sick, etc etc.
The doctor I spoke to yesterday said they’re hoping to extend people’s lives long enough for stem cell research to provide a real cure My interpretation? This is not going to save your life, just lengthen it and keep you walking and independent longer. Fair enough. I'm in.
A little hope is enough. Meanwhile, outside the world has bigger fish to fry than my little drama. We are down to four in the presidential campaign - all minorities of a sort. Who would have thought it would come down to a choice between a woman, a black man and two mentally-challenged people. The world is changing faster than we can keep up. As Obama would say "Yes we can."