MediciNova, Inc., a biopharmaceutical based in San Diego, announced that it has received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for MN-166 (ibudilast) for the treatment of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The nerves lose the ability to trigger specific muscles, which causes the muscles to become weak. As a result, ALS affects voluntary movement and patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Life expectancy of an ALS patient is usually 2-5 years. According to the ALS Association, there are approximately 30,000 ALS patients in the U.S. and approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. Riluzole is the only pharmaceutical treatment approved for ALS, but it has limited efficacy.