ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Michelle Francis and her family have been affected by Lou Gehrig’s Disease for 7 generations.
Now, she is undertaking a new treatment plan and says she is optimistic for herself and generations of her family to come.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affects control of the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe, and there is no cure.
Francis joined a clinical trial of a new drug, Tofersen, in late 2022, just before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 2023.
The drug is the only treatment that targets superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD-1) a genetic mutation linked to ALS.
Francis says she has been on the treatment plan for about 5 months at UW Health in Madison and has seen improvements already.
“They found out that my NF-L’s (neural filament lights) have reduced like 50%. And basically, those are the kind of measures, of the toxicity of the neurons degenerating in my body. So 50% of that has gone down. That’s definitely good. It’s less of that in my body,” she said.
She added that she has also seen advancements in her physical mobility.
“I have been able to transfer myself a little better. Sliding from the wheelchair to the toilet to the bed to this and that,” she said.
Francis said she is confident in the treatment and believes it will lead to more breakthroughs in medication in the future.
“It’s still a terminal disease, but try this drug. This might be able to help you. The sooner you try it, the better. So that gives me hope. It gives me hope that now other people are trying drugs for that and for other things with this kind of technology,” she said.
She encouraged those diagnosed with ALS to be open to experimental treatments and not to lose hope.