Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterised by loss of muscle control. In 2014, the viral fundraising sensation of the Ice Bucket challenge raised both awareness and funding.

There is currently no cure for ALS, in part due to the complexity of the syndrome; 147 genes have so far been linked to the disease. Precision diagnostics and targeted therapy for individual patients or patient subgroups offer the best potential for future treatments.

The pathological processes associated with ALS include:

■ Mitochondrial dysfunction
■ Protein accumulation
■ Defects in RNA metabolism
■ Destabilisation of the cytoskeleton

This illustration mixes the abstract image of a weakening muscle disappearing into a black hole with the molecular details of the causative pathologies in the neurons and surrounding the cells in synaptic space. Looking on is the late, great Stephen Hawking.

🇹🇷 Gökçe Tanıyan is a PhD candidate in the Oncology Department of the Institute of Health Sciences and a scientificillustrator. She loves to enlighten science by the light of the art.

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