Stem Cell Treatment for ALS

Since the condition currently has no effective cure, it is an ideal candidate for stem cell treatment. Two promising treatment options for ALS are the use of umbilical cord blood and bone marrow stem cells. Umbilical cord blood stem cells in culture are, under the right conditions, able to differentiate into specific cell lines, including neuronal precursors. When bone marrow stem cells are used some patients report a lessening of symptoms.

ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a serious neurodegenerative disease. It causes motor neurons in the spinal cord and the brain to die off. When the neurons die, the sufferer is no longer able to initiate and control muscle movement. With muscle action progressively compromised, patients may eventually become totally paralyzed. The course ALS runs in individual patients varies widely; no two people experience it in the same way. Some cases have been medically documented in which the disease progresses at a very slow rate or stops progressing altogether.

Since the condition currently has no effective cure, it is an ideal candidate for stem cell treatment. Any delaying in the process of degeneration, or restoration of neurological function, is a welcome improvement for the patient.

One possible way to tackle the problem would be to stimulate stem cells found in the patient’s brain. These, however, are found in small numbers, tucked away in niches and reservoirs. The use of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood is a another possible direction. Umbilical cord blood stem cells in culture are able to differentiate into specific cell lines, including neuronal precursors, under the right conditions. These cells can then be expanded in number. Furthermore, differentiation can be made of selective populations of neuronal cells.

Other treatment protocols utilize bone marrow stem cells. These cells are collected from the patient, processed, and injected back into the patient a few days later. While as yet this treatment does not bring improvement for all patients, some do report a lessening of symptoms.

All Available Treatments for ALS

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