Stay the Executioner's Hand

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Science  14 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5464, pp. 283-284
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5464.283

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ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease after the American baseball star who died of the illness, is characterized by death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. In a Perspective, Gurney and colleagues discuss new findings ( Li et al.) showing that in a mouse model of ALS, survival can be prolonged by administering an inhibitor of caspases, the enzymes that act as the cell's executioner in apoptosis. The new work demonstrates that the motor neurons die through apoptosis and that blocking this programmed cell death with a caspase inhibitor might be one approach to treating ALS patients.