Laying the Foundation in ALS Research: Matthew B. Harms, MD

The associate professor of neurology at Columbia University spoke to the recent progress made in ALS research and how the neuromuscular field has pushed the envelope to improve care and develop a cure for the disease. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

“Finding a cure in ALS is a bit like putting together an autonomously driving vehicle. You have to have all of the pieces converge and come together. Before that can happen, the software has to be up to snuff, you have to have the battery life that's going to allow them to drive, and the GPS systems all have to be up to speed. In order to allow this car to drive, a lot of complicated things have to come together. What we've been working on and laying the foundation for in ALS research over the last 20 years are all of those individual components and pieces that have to come together.”

In the last 2 decades, the physicians specializing in the care of patients with neuromuscular diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have been working in a rapidly changing arena of care. Progress in improving the process of conducting clinical trials and identifying both genetic and nongenetic targets for therapies has brought the field into a new era of medicine.

With May being celebrated as ALS Awareness Month, conversations about these advances and what the future holds for patients are at the top of mind for many experts. One such expert, Matthew B. Harms, MD, associate professor of neurology, Columbia University, and medical consultant and care center director, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), shared his perspective on how much has changed with NeurologyLive®. Specifically, he pointed to the overall progress that’s been driven by advances in different areas—research, clinical care, and advocacy—all coming to a head together.

Additionally, he spoke about some of the technological and data developments in ALS that have occurred. The lowered cost of genetic sequencing, as one example, has allowed for more ease in collecting patient-level genetic data, with the potential of some which yet to be fully realized in terms of its effect on the field. These data and their respective hubs have also provided a platform for identifying genes that are implicated in the disease that may be ideal therapeutic targets