Veterinarians at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University are currently evaluating a new drug to treat dogs with degenerative myelopathy, a disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – in humans.  The treatment involves using a virus to deliver gene silencing therapy to dogs harboring mutations in the SOD1 gene, which is implicated in the development of both degenerative myelopathy and ALS.


  • Virginia Rentko, DVM
  • Cheryl London, DVM

Three key benefits of the findings

  • Dogs may represent a unique animal model to use for studying ALS, a disease with few treatment options.
  • Degenerative myelopathy in dogs also has few treatment options.  Therefore, a successful outcome to the trial may also benefit dogs.
  • So far, the therapy appears to be well-tolerated by pet dogs, although it remains to be seen whether it will be effective.