Also Known As: Riluzole, Rilutek

Riluzole is a drug used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It delays the onset of ventilator-dependence or tracheostomy in selected patients and may increase survival by approximately 3–5 months.

It is marketed by Sanofi-Aventis with the brand name Rilutek.

Riluzole preferentially blocks TTX-sensitive sodium channels, which are associated with damaged neurons. This reduces influx of calcium ions and indirectly prevents stimulation of glutamate receptors. Together with direct glutamate receptor blockade, the effect of the neurotransmitter glutamate on motor neurons is greatly reduced.

However, the action of riluzole on glutamate receptors has been controversial, as no binding of the molecule has been shown on any known receptor. In addition, as its antiglutamate action is still detectable in the presence of sodium channel blockers, it is also uncertain whether or not it acts via this way. Rather, its potent glutamate uptake activator activity seems to mediate many of its effects.

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