Specific stem cells heighten therapeutic potential
Dr. Stefania Corti, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Milan, led the study with her colleagues. Their research was published on June 6 in the Human Molecular Genetics journal.
ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, damages the nerve cells located in the spinal cord and the brain. People who are diagnosed with ALS eventually become paralyzed and die. This happens within just two to five years after receiving a diagnosis. Researchers have not yet discovered why veterans are two times more likely to develop ALS compared to the general population.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for ALS. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved just one drug that only slightly lengthens ALS patients’ survival.
This is why stem cells are so important for treating ALS: stem cells can change into a variety of different cells, including neurons. These cells could protect and nourish the neurons against the disease.
“This important work increases our understanding of the potential of stem cells for therapy in ALS,” Dr. Lucie Bruijn, chief scientist for the ALS Association, said. “As we continue to develop this therapy, it may be very useful to focus on those cells with the migration and growth-promoting properties demonstrated here, but understand that there are still many hurdles to overcome to take this to clinical trials. So far, efficacy in the clinic is unclear.”
Organizations in this story
ALS Association 1275 K Street Northwest Washington, DC 20005