Targets for Cancer, Crohn's disease, ALS

Cancer (medical term: malignant neoplasm) is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display the traits of uncontrolled growth (growth and division beyond the normal limits), invasion (intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which are self-limited, do not invade or metastasize. Most cancers form a tumor but some, like leukemia, do not.

Cancer may affect people at all ages, even fetuses, but risk for the more common varieties tends to increase with age. Cancer causes about 13% of all deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, 7.6 million people died from cancer in the world during 2007. Cancers can affect other animals besides humans, and plants, too.

Crohns disease
Crohn's disease (also known as regional enteritis) is a chronic, episodic, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is generally classified as an autoimmune disease. Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus; as a result, the symptoms of Crohn's disease vary among afflicted individuals. The disease is characterized by areas of inflammation with areas of normal lining between in a symptom known as skip lesions. The main gastrointestinal symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody, though this may not be visible to the naked eye), constipation, vomiting, weight loss or weight gain. Crohn's disease can also cause complications outside of the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, and inflammation of the eye.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called Maladie de Charcot, or Lou Gehrig's Disease (US)) is a progressive, usually fatal, neurodegenerative disease caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. As a motor neuron disease, the disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body as both the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate, ceasing to send messages to muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, develop fasciculations (twitches) because of denervation, and eventually atrophy because of that denervation. The patient may ultimately lose the ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement except of the eyes.

Cognitive function is generally spared except in certain situations such as when ALS is associated with frontotemporal dementia. However, there are reports of more subtle cognitive changes of the frontotemporal type in many patients when detailed neuropsychological testing is employed. Sensory nerves and the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions like sweating, generally remain functional.

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