How Stem Cells May Help Lou Gehrig's Patients
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Lou Gehrig’s disease, also referred to as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, causes a person to gradually lose control of their muscles until they are unable to move their arms and legs, and eventually they cannot even breathe. Unfortunately, effective treatments for ALS are not available and although many are searching for a cure, one has not yet been found.
Now, a new Italian study using neural stem cells in mice with ALS may be on the right track to helping humans suffering from the disease.
Using mice with an animal form of Lou Gehrig’s disease, researchers injected human neural iPSC stem cells, meaning they have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state so that they are more malleable, into the mice.
After the injection, the stem cells matured and multiplied in the mice’s spinal cords causing the mice to survive 20 days longer than usual.
Another benefit of the stem cell injections was an improvement of 15% in the mice’s neuromuscular function, one of the primary functions affected by Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Stem cell transplants may represent a promising avenue for effective cell-based treatment for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases," study researcher Stefania Corti, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Milan in Italy was quoted as saying.
Hopefully these results will help researchers move closer to a cure, or at least more effective treatments, for ALS.
However, before any of these hopes can be realized it needs to be seen how humans with Lou Gehrig’s disease will react to the stem cell injections, something that may happen not too far into the future.
"Our study shows promise for testing stem cell transplantation in human clinical trials," Dr. Corti was quoted as saying.
Source: American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 2013