09 Feb Stem cell therapy for ALS
Stem cell therapy may have the ability to slow the progression of neurological disorders, such as ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
ALS is the result of the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles. It affects both upper and lower motor neurons, and patients suffer both from involuntary spasticity as well as muscle weakening over time. Common symptoms are –
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty moving
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle stiffness
- Slurred speech
While there is no known cure for ALS, advancements in stem cell medicine show that stem cell therapy may be able to delay the progression of the disease.
ALS Stem cell treatment
Stem cell therapy for ALS focuses on improving the diseased micro-environment. While stem cells may not directlybe able to replace the diseased motor neurons, they can secrete neurotrophic factors and differentiate into supportive cells, like astrocytes and microglia. This creates an environment that can slow degeneration of motor neurons.
Stem cells are also being used in trials to treat ALS directly since they possess the ability to seek out damage in the body and replace cells of any type. This can allow stem cells to both protect a patient’s healthy neurons, as well as potentially grow new cells to replace those that have died.
A study conducted by PanayiotaPetrou found stem cell therapy to be both safe and having at least 25% improvement at 6 months after treatment in the slope of progression.