Stem cell procedure may be safe for ALS patients

Transplanting human stem cells into the spinal cord of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be safely accomplished, according to the results of a Phase 2 clinical trial. The study, led by researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in Atlanta, was not designed to assess the efficacy of the treatment, but results suggest it did not accelerate the progression of the disease.

The findings were published in the journal Neurology in a study titled “Transplantation of spinal cord-derived neural stem cells for ALS.”

There are currently no treatments that prevent the progression of ALS. Stem cells have been proposed as a potential therapy for ALS based on their ability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple cell types, which may help repairing or replacing the injured cells.

“Though there were two serious complications related to the treatment, the level of acceptable risk for treating patients with ALS, where the prognosis is poor and treatments are limited, is arguably higher than that for more benign disorders,” said Jonathan D. Glass, M.D., a professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, in a press release.

The open-label Phase 2 trial enrolled 15 participants with ALS at three academic centers who had their first symptoms within two years of the start of the study. The patients were divided into five treatment groups, receiving increasing doses of stem cells by increasing the number of injections, which ranged from 10 to 40, and the number of stem cells per injection, which ranged from 2 million to 16 million cells.

excerpt © 2016 ALS News Today.