SITE VISIT: Maladies of Nerve and Muscle

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Science  21 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5452, pp. 387
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5452.387c

Diseases like multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) often erode nerves for years before paralyzing or even killing their victims. Providing the latest information on these slow-burn diseases is the Neuromuscular Disease Center, a Web site packed with descriptions of the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of several hundred conditions, from ALS to zoster.

The sober accounts—presented in a terse outline style familiar to physicians—can be viewed by disease, by tissue affected (motor neuron, for example), or even by molecule (such as ion channel, neurotransmitter, or snake venom toxin). Also featured are guides for physicians on how to diagnose the disorders as well as a photo gallery of specimens from normal and abnormal tissue. Researchers will find a rich store of data on the genetics and molecular mechanisms behind the diseases, including external links to protein databases and to the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, a virtual encyclopedia of genes and genetic diseases.

Created by Alan Pestronk, a neurologist at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, the site offers an illustrated primer on neuromuscular disorders geared toward med students and four Wallet WebSites. These are one-page synopses of diseases and diagnostic tests that Pestronk's students like to print out and laminate for use as pocket reference guides.

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