Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive, degenerative neuromuscular disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These motor neurons carry messages from the brain to the spinal cord and, ultimately, to the muscles that are necessary for voluntary and involuntary movement and function.

In people living with ALS, motor neurons progressively die and the brain can no longer communicate with the muscles through the spinal cord. As muscles are used less and less frequently, they can atrophy, causing people with ALS to lose the ability to perform everyday activities, such as walking, speaking, and eating. ALS also affects the diaphragm, an essential muscle responsible for breathing, so people with ALS eventually lose their ability to breathe on their own. The average life expectancy for ALS patients is three to five years after diagnosis and death is generally caused by respiratory failure. There is no known cause or cure for ALS.1

Cytokinetics is driven to improve the lives of people fighting ALS by applying our understanding of the mechanics of muscle function and contractility to the discovery and development of novel potential treatments that may directly improve muscle function, potentially delaying disease progression and preserving independence.


  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [Internet]. 2019. Available at: Accessed March 22, 2019.