ALS – which became more well-known after the 2014 ‘ice bucket challenge’ – is a neurological condition that causes patients to lose movement in their arms, legs and body.
The average life expectancy of someone with the condition is between two and five years, but it can progress at different rates in different people.
But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new treatment for the condition, for the first time in more than 22 years.
A doctor claimed the drug was the first in decades to genuinely make a difference to ALS symptoms.
Dr Cornelius Robens said: “For decades we’ve had one medication that’s really causing a statistical benefit.
“This medication seems to be the first that is really causing a change. It’s a game changer.
“This is kind of the last disease that I can think of where we have not had a lot to offer and now that’s changing.”
The drug, Radicava, slows physical function decline by 33 per cent in ALS patients, studies claimed.
The treatment includes two weeks of daily medication, followed by two weeks medication-free.
After that, patients take the drug daily for 10 days, followed by another two weeks without the drug.
Scientists tested Radical in Japan. Researchers compared 137 ALS patients that either took, or didn’t take, the new medication.
After 24 weeks, the scientists saw a positive difference in patients taking Radical.
The FDA’s deputy director of its Division of Neurology, Eric Bastings, said: “After learning about the use of edaravone to treat ALS in Japan, we rapidly engaged with the drug developer about filing a marketing application in the United States.
“This is the first new treatment approved by the FDA for ALS in many years, and we are pleased that people with ALS will now have an additional option.”
ALS – or Lou Gherig’s disease – is a rare condition that affects about one in every 50,000 people in the UK.
There is currently no cure for the condition, and treatment aims to make the patient feel comfortable, and have the best quality of life possible.