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Why is it so hard to cure ALS? - Fernando Vieira


6,132 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called motor neuron disease and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, affects about two out of every 100,000 people worldwide. When a person has ALS, their motor neurons - the cells responsible for all voluntary muscle control in the body - lose function and die. Fernando G. Vieira shares what we know (and don't know) about ALS.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

To learn more about ALS, click here and here.

The longest axon of a single motor neuron can extend over one meter in length. To learn more about upper and lower motor neurons, which are some of the largest cells in mammals, click here.

This article from the ALS Association describes the symptoms of ALS. It also provides resources for those who would like to learn more about diagnostic testing.

The first person to describe amyotrophic lateral sclerosis was renowned French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Described by many as “The Father of Neurology,” one of his greatest gifts was his ability to carefully relate clinical observations to post-mortem pathological findings. To learn more about Dr. Charcot, click here.

In 2017, Niels Birbaumer, a senior research fellow in neuroscience and psychology, shared his findings from a clinical trial that used brain-computer technology to “read” the thoughts of patients with ALS and translate them on a computer interface. Click here to read a published paper on the trial and here to read a breakdown of Birbaumer’s results.

To learn more about the experiences of those living with ALS, check out Augie and Gleason.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Fernando Vieira
  • Director Outis
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Composer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Fact-Checker Francisco Diez

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