The key to the tomb

“There is no treatment. A chance to keep me as I am, 50 to 50. Maybe in 10 years I’ll need a cane”, — wrote in 1939, “the Iron horse”, a legend of American baseball, his wife from the Mayo clinic. The athlete was only 36, and two years later he died, losing the ability not only to walk, but even to sign documents without the assistance of his wife. It was already known that the case in the progressive death of the motor (motor) neurons of brain and spinal cord, but its cause remained unclear. “That must in some microbe, he said in the same letter. — But nobody heard of that were transferred between the spouses”.

After 35 years with the same diagnosis received 80-year-old dictator. By the time the version of the microbial pathogens seriously not considered, and neurodegeneration considered one of the manifestations of aging of the nervous system. It was clear that in brain tissues, there are some plaques as in Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease — that cause progressive paralysis. These plaques are then still unclear nature, in ten years turned a cheerful old man and 72 years old crossed the Yangtze river, in a hopeless patient who can breathe only lying on its side. From diagnosis to death, as in the case of baseball, it’s been about two years.

British astrophysics was more fortunate. His sentence he heard before his fellow sufferers crossed the Yangtze for the last time, but the disease stopped in mid-stride from a lethal finish. Slowly losing the mobility of the head, a scientist, lived for another 55 years, has become an icon nauchpop and a new symbol for their illness. During this time it became clear that aggregates in the brain are composed of proteins, these proteins appeared names, on the horizon loomed a possible genes is the culprit. Fifty clinical trials of the drug started and fizzled out early. Millions of people poured buckets of ice water, raising money for research of the disease. But no one understood how to treat it.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als), which killed Lou Gehrig, Mao Zedong and Stephen Hawking is just one of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, against which humanity still powerless. And although not always the BASS ends with dementia, with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s compared him knowingly. The obstacles that separate us from drugs, in all these cases approximately the same: to predict the disease impossible to diagnose in the early stages is not always possible, maintains various reasons, and the list is not full.

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