Patient Care

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Clinic:  The clinic is designated an ALS Association (ALSA) Certified Treatment Center of Excellence (Director: Raymond Roos, MD; co-Director: Betty Soliven, MD). The Clinic achieved this designation by satisfying the rigorous requirements of the ALS Association Treatment Centers of Excellence Program®. The latter Program designs, implements, and monitors a national standard of best-practice care in the management of ALS. Certification is based on established requirements of the program, professionals’ skill sets, people living with ALS served, active involvement in ALS-related research, relationships with local Chapters, and access to care.  The ALS Clinic is dedicated to providing cutting-edge clinical care and the opportunity to participate in multi-center clinical trials, with Kourosh Rezania, MD serving as Principal Investigator. Of note, we have one of the world’s longest continuously running multidisciplinary ALS clinics, with an affiliation with the Greater Chicago Chapter of the ALS Association. Patients are seen by a team consisting of a Care Services Coordinator representing the Greater Chicago Chapter of the ALS Association, an orthotist, nutritionist, speech pathologist, social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist, a psychiatrist, and palliative specialist. In addition, a University of Chicago Medical Center dedicated pulmonologist and gastroenterologist provide consultation and manage the respiratory care and GI /nutritional needs of our patients.

Raymond Roos MD has two main research directions: 1) Investigations of neurodegenerative diseases. These investigations were initiated when Roos held a position at the NINDS, NIH under D. Carleton Gajdusek, who won the Nobel prize for the transmission of two prion diseases. Roos has  continued to pursue an interest in misfolded proteins in investigations of ALS, MS, and prion disease. His most recent studies are focused on an experimental model of C9orf72 with expanded repeats (the most common cause of inherited ALS), in C. elegans. 2) Investigations of Theiler’s virus (TV), a mouse picornavirus that produces interesting neurological disease phenotypes. Certain strains from one TV subgroup produce a chronic persistent infection in mice in which autoimmune factors mediate a demyelinating disease. The demyelination caused by these strains provides one of the best experimental models for MS because of the similarity in their pathology and because the immune system appears to contribute to disease in both cases. Other strains from a second TV subgroup cause a motor neuron disease. The Roos lab is investigating Theiler's virus (TV)-induced disease in order to identify molecular determinants for demyelination and neurovirulence and the mechanisms involved. The basic aim is to define molecular determinants for the virus' biological behavior. The TV model is an especially valuable one for these studies because of the powerful molecular tools that are available, the interesting phenotypes of the strains, and the ease with which one can study this simple virus in a mouse (including various mouse mutant strains). With this goal in mind, the Roos lab has produced infectious cDNA clones from strains of the two different subgroups and generated recombinant and mutated viruses. The identification of the virus genes may not only clarify the pathogenesis of TV disease, but also lead to an understanding of genes important in the normal CNS and in human CNS disease states (such as ALS and MS).

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Clinic at the University of Chicago Medicine, an ALS Association (ALSA) Certified Treatment Center of Excellence, is one of the longest continuously running ALS clinics in the world. We offer multidisciplinary care for ALS and other neuromuscular diseases, such as spinal muscular atrophy, muscular dystrophies and other myopathies, hereditary and acquired neuropathies, myasthenia gravis and other disorders. Our ALS Association clinic care team includes neurologists with expertise in neuromuscular diseases in both adults and children, as well as a dedicated pulmonologist, a psychiatrist, nutritionist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, expert on swallowing, nurse, social worker, and ALSA Care Services Coordinator. Our group is actively involved in clinical trials involving patients with ALS, neuropathy and myasthenia gravis, as well as basic research on neuromuscular disease.