Medical therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-related respiratory decline: an appraisal of needs, opportunities and obstacles

Carolyn Young, Susana Pinto, Julian Grosskreutz, Orla Hardiman, Lora L. Clawson, Merit E. Cudkowicz, Jinsy A. Andrews*

*Corresponding author for this work


A roundtable convened in July 2020 examined issues concerning respiratory support in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with reference to the potential for an early-phase orally administered medication that might either postpone the introduction of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) and/or enhance the benefits to be gained from it. Attention was also given to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on usual practice in the assessment and management of ALS-related respiratory difficulties. Implementation of NIV marks a step-change in clinical status for patients and a major increase in burden for caregivers. All means to ease this transition should be explored: an oral therapy that supported respiratory function and patients’ independence and sense of well-being would aid discussions to facilitate the eventual successful introduction of NIV. Assessment of a candidate oral therapy that might support respiratory function in ALS patients would be aided by the development of improved patient-reported outcome measures for robust quantification of treatment effect and quality of life. Such instruments could also be used to monitor patients’ status during the COVID-19 pandemic, averting some of the risks of face-to-face assessment plus the patient burden and costs of traditional methods. Several oral candidate therapies have recently failed to meet their primary endpoints in clinical trials. However, understanding of the underlying physiology and appropriate trial design have grown and will inform future developments in this field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 02.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)
  • Centers: Center for Neuromuscular Diseases


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