ALS researchers meet in Chicago as patients remain hopeful

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Matt Toole, of Elmhurst, has battled ALS for nine years and is hopeful that researchers will make some breakthroughs in curing the disease.

As researchers studying ALS met Monday in Chicago, patients are hopeful that their work will lead to a cure.

Some very promising research is being conducted at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"My lab has identified modifiers, several other labs have identified modifiers, that accelerate the degradation of misfolded proteins. Those misfolded proteins are what's driving the disease," said Dr. Robert Kalb, the director of Northwestern's Les Turner ALS Center.

"We finally have a big pipeline of good ideas and targets that are ready to take to patients," Dr. Merit Cudkowicz, of the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Matt Toole, of Elmhurst, has battled ALS for nine years and said advances can't come soon enough.

"I take every day as a gift," Toole said.

As the disease has progressed, everyday life has become increasingly difficult.

"Right now I really can't do anything for myself so I need a lot of help. My wife Karen and the kids really provide a lot of support, we have a caregiver fulltime," Toole said.

As Toole and his wife Karen work to keep a positive attitude as they deal with the debilitating disease, they appreciate the help they get from the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

"They keep encouraging us with support groups, the research, they are incredibly smart, invested, every doctor we've met. They keep us going," Karen Toole said.
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