Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s ALS Center is 1st in N.J. to provide treatment to target genetic cause of disease

Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s ALS Center in Neptune said that, in April, it became the first in New Jersey to provide the first treatment to target a genetic cause of the disease, the FDA-approved QALSODY (tofersen) injection.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive, debilitating disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy. ALS often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis.

The treatment is only available in adults who have a mutation in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene.

“I’m happy we are able to provide this new treatment for people with SOD1-ALS. Since SOD1 mutations were identified as the cause of ALS years ago, the medical community has been searching for effective, genetically targeted treatments,” Dr. Mary Sedarous, medical director, ALS Center, said. “Patients who participated in the clinical study of QALSODY experienced a reduction in the concentrations of SOD1 in the (cerebrospinal fluid) and clinically also experienced a reduction in the decline of strength. I’m excited at what the future of these treatments may hold for our ALS community.”

The center collaborates with the ALS Association and the Northeast ALS Consortium, allowing the exchange of research and best care practices with the nation’s leading ALS experts and clinics.

“With Dr. Sedarous’ expert leadership, our nationally recognized ALS Center brings together different specialists in one all-inclusive visit, providing its patients and families with a comprehensive and convenient health care experience,” Vito Buccellato, president and chief hospital executive, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, said.

The Joan Dancy and PALS Foundation supports the ALS Center, providing valuable feedback, education and in-servicing to enhance the care experience.

“Our ALS Center is leading the way in the fight against this devastating disease. It is one of only two Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence in New Jersey and is designated by the ALS Association’s National Office and the Greater Philadelphia Chapter,” Dr. Kenneth Sable, regional president, Southern Market, Hackensack Meridian Health, said. “The multidisciplinary team is dedicated to providing patients diagnosed with ALS with the unique, comprehensive care they require.”

The ALS Center is located in the Dr. Robert H. Harris Neuroscience Treatment Center, home to experts in several neurological diseases and conditions. It provides advanced diagnostic, medical and surgical treatments at Jersey Shore University Medical Center for multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy and other movement disorders, pediatric neurology, headaches and migraines, sleep medicine and neuro-oncology, among others.