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The ALS registry could help identify environmental risk factors for the disease
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The ALS registry could help identify environmental risk factors for the disease

BURLINGTON (Vt.) – Dustin Keelty was plagued by a single question long after he was diagnosed as having amytrophic lateral Sclerosis (aka Lou Gehrigs disease). Why me?

Although he was not feeling sorry for himself the Milton man was not feeling it. Keelty wanted to find out how cosmic forces combined to give him this rare, incurable and fatal disease.

Scientists have been puzzled for years about this question, despite the fact that around 90% of ALS cases, including Keeltys, have no genetic explanation. Researchers at Dartmouth–Hitchcock medical centre have been particularly interested to find a link between the fatal illness and cyanobacteria. This is the culprit for the stinky algae blooms that hit some Vermont lakes each summer.

A bill that is currently before the state legislature could help to identify patterns by mandating health care providers to report ALS diagnoses in a central registry.

Cat Viglienzoni spoke to Seven Days Colin Flanders. This week’s issue features the reporting of who contributed to the story.

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