Friday, 8 February 2013

CD133+ stem cells for the treatment of ALS

Researchers from Tecnol├│gico de Monterrey School of Medicine (TMSM), Mexico, announced today some very good news for people suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou gehrig's disease). Their findings, strongly indicate that autologous stem cells taken from ALS patients themselves may have the same potential to differentiate into neural cells as the ones taken from healthy individuals. Their study may pave the wave for new stem cell therapies for ALS, without the risk of rejection.

As of today, ALS remains an untreatable condition, although previously published studies strongly suggest that stem cells infusions could help manage the symptoms and even extend a patient's lifespan. However, they fail to present whether these stem cells actually develop into new neurons or not.

The study is focused on this exact question. The researchers experimented with CD133 positive stem cells, extracted from peripheral blood, which are commonly used in the aforementioned infusions. The cells were collected from a total of 13 ALS patients and were cultured in vitro in a neuroinduction medium  for a period of about 48 hours. Reportedly and after 2 days, the stem cells had started producing neuronal proteins, indicating that they were already taking the differentiation pathway to becoming neurons.

Brain MRI of an ALS patients

According to González Garza, one of the leading authors, all CD133+ stem cells responded similarly to the neuro-induction medium, regardless of the donor's sex,age and stage of the disease.

Jorge E. Moreno-Cuevasa, again leading author, says that the study's findings are very promising and indicate for the first time that the condition may be treatable using an autologous CD133+ stem cell transplantation in the frontal cortex. He added, that the study may explain the positive clinical outcomes reported in other similar studies in which ALS patients were treated with stem cell infusions.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig's disease) is a debilitating disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which are responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement. It is estimated that the condition affects around 1 in every 20.000 individuals. The condition often leads to total paralysis and death. Some common symptoms of the condition include:
  • Progressive weakness accompanied by muscle atrophy
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Dysarthria (difficulty speaking)
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)

Informational video about the condition

Gonzalez-Garza, M., Martinez, H., Caro-Osorio, E., Cruz-Vega, D., Hernandez-Torre, M., & Moreno-Cuevas, J. (2013). Differentiation of CD133+ Stem Cells From Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patients Into Preneuron Cells Stem Cells Translational Medicine DOI: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0077

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