New drug gives hope to those living with ALS - KCTV5

New drug gives hope to those living with ALS

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ALS is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. (KCTV) ALS is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. (KCTV)
MISSION, KS (KCTV) -

For the first time in 22 years, the FDA has approved a new drug specifically designed for people with ALS. For many of those living with ALS, that means they have a chance to live longer and slow down the progressive disease.

"You choose,” said Jennifer Beckerman, who has ALS. “You're going to live or you're not going to live, and I decided to live."

Just over a year ago, Beckerman was diagnosed with ALS. Now, the new drug called Radicava is offering hope.

"To have another drug treatment option available that's slowing progression down by 33 percent is incredibly significant,” said Colleen Wachter, Executive Director of the ALS Association’s Mid-America Chapter.

ALS is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Eventually, people lose the ability to control their muscle movements. Right now, there is only one drug people can turn to.

"The only treatment that we've had so far has showed to slow progression by about 60 days,” Wachter said. “We don't know where the 60 days is. If it’s at the beginning great. If it’s at the end, no one really wants it.”

ALS is usually a death sentence. Once diagnosed, people are given an estimated two to five years to live.

Radicava, however, can increase someone’s life by years instead of months.

For people like Beckerman who live with the disease, even a week makes a difference. "I know there's so much more to live for,” she said.

Radicava is set to be released in the U.S. in August.

Beckerman is confident that this drug will reach her in time to really make a difference.

"It means I get to see my daughter graduate,” she said.

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