PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A breakthrough was announced at the Barrow Neurological Institute and it involves the fight against ALS.
ALS is a dread disease -- a slow and tragic degeneration for the 6,000 people who are diagnosed with it each year, but now there's new hope and it comes from the Barrow, which is working with IBM Watson Health.
New York Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig was one of the all-time greats. His name was synonymous with durability, clean living and clean play.
After a spectacular career, he died of ALS, which became known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The cells that make muscles move die, causing paralysis and death. Barrow researchers in Phoenix had Watson search through 1,500 genes to look for which ones might be linked to ALS and the results were stunning.
"I am very happy to announce out of the top 10 hits from IBM, nine of the 10 are changed in ALS patients and out of that group of 10, five have never been linked to this disease," said Barrow's Robert Bowser, PhD.
Dr. Tina Moen from IBM Watson Health added, "Everyone of course is very excited. Watson could help improve outcomes and lives, keep us healthier with devastating diseases such as ALS.
Researchers are trying to zero in on new drugs to treat ALS. Doug Clough of Gilbert, who has ALS, is hopeful.
"For me, the personal part.. allowing people to live life, love life.. speed up.. find a cure.. they will be able to watch my daughter graduate, see them get married, have grandkids.."