August is a month with no national holidays and it’s back to school season meaning summer is coming to an end. Some would say it is a dull month, but to some, it is the most important month of the year. It is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), is a genetic disease that affects part of the nervous system that controls muscle movement. It is classified as a motor neuron disease because it involves the loss of nerve cells called motor neurons located in the spinal cord.
Chromosome 5 SMA is caused by a deficiency of a motor neuron protein called SMN. The deficiency is caused by genetic mutations on chromosome 5. Those who suffer from this lose the ability to use their muscles that are closest to the center of their body. In turn, they lose their ability to walk, eat and breathe without medical involvement.
Since 1984, millions of dollars have gone to researching that has made today’s breakthroughs possible. Currently, research is being conducted on the best way to increase the body’s production of SMN proteins. While there is no current cure for this disease there are treatments for it. Including medicines that can potentially be effective at slowing, stopping, or reversing the symptoms of SMA. Researchers are attacking SMA from all sides through basic research, drug discovery, clinical trials, and clinical care. Each day is a step closer to the cure.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month strives to raise awareness of the disease, educate the public, and generate support for those with SMA. The main goal is to show support through local and national events and create funding for more research to help find a cure. This month is to honor all the lives that have been affected by SMA and to bring future progress.
If you wish to learn more about SMA, please visit www.curesma.org.