Stem Cell Research Shows ALS May Be Treatable
"This significant research will help us better understand the mechanisms underlying motor neuron diseases," said Yang (Ted) Teng, PhD, MD, the study's co-lead author and director of the Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cell Biology Research Laboratory in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "This work sheds new light on detrimental roles played by non-neuronal cells in triggering motor neuron death and these events should be targeted for developing more effective therapeutics to treat ALS."
The transplanted neural stem cells benefited the mice with ALS by boosting the health and function of their remaining nerve cells. The neural stem cells also reduced inflammation and suppressed the number of disease-causing cells in their spinal cords. The neural stem cells did not replace deteriorating nerve cells.
"This is not a cure for ALS," explained Dr. Teng, who is one of the principal investigators of Project ALS' consortium project. "But it shows the potential that mechanisms used by neural stem cells in our study have for improving an ALS patient's quality of life and length of life."