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New hope in treating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, an incurable neurological disease, which is particularly frequent in former soccer players, may come from stem cells. Nicholas Maragakis and his colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore in the United States, have successfully conducted an important experiment in mice. In a study published in the online edition of ‘Nature Neuroscience’, the American researchers transplanted precursor cells called astrocytes, which function as support cells for neurons, into the mice with ALS. This allow the mice to survive for much longer.
Professor Jeanne Loring
Stem cells show great potential to enable treatments for conditions such as spinal injuries or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and also as research tools. One of the greatest problems slowing such work is that researchers have found major complications in purifying cell mixtures, for instance to remove stem cells that can cause tumors from cells developed for use in medical treatments. But a group of Scripps Research scientists, working with colleagues in Japan, have developed a clever solution to this purification problem that should prove more reliable than other methods, safer, and perhaps 100 times cheaper.
In an effort to identify the underlying causes of neurological disorders that impair motor functions such as walking and breathing, UCLA researchers have developed a novel system to measure communication between stem cell–derived motor neurons and muscle cells in a Petri dish.
The study provides an important proof of principle that functional motor circuits can be created outside the body using these neurons and cells and that the level of communication, or synaptic activity, between them can be accurately measured by stimulating the motor neurons with an electrode and then tracking the transfer of electrical activity into the muscle cells
USC Stem Cell researcher Justin Ichida has marshaled the expertise of pharmaceutical company Sanofi and startup DRVision Technologies, along with $1.5 million in federal funding, to find new drugs in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS patients suffer from the death of the cells that transmit signals from the brain to the muscles, called motor neurons, leading to progressive paralysis and usually resulting in fatal respiratory failure within three to five years of diagnosis.
The three-year grant comes from the Department of Defense. Each year, the DoD funds two ALS Therapeutic Development Awards because military veterans
Neuralstem Inc. has received the green light to begin the first human stem cell trial to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The company’s stock soared on the news.
Neuralstem has only received approval for the first stage of the trial that would consist of 12 patients who will receive stem cell injections in the lumbar area of the spinal cord.
Neuralstem said the trial will be under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Eva L. Feldman, Director of the University of Michigan Health System ALS Clinic and the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery.