Stem Cell Treatment for ALS is Available at ASCI
ALS - AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS
ALS Stem Cell Treatment Case Review
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input.
The condition is often called Lou Gehrig's disease in North America, after the New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The disorder is characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, spasticity, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise. Sensory function generally is spared, as is autonomic, and oculomotor activity. ALS is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disease
Signs and symptoms
The disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body caused by degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons. Unable to function, the muscles weaken and atrophy. Affected individuals may ultimately lose the ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement, although bladder and bowel sphincters and the muscles responsible for eye movement are usually, but not always, spared.
Cognitive function is generally spared for most patients although some (~5%) also have frontotemporal dementia. A higher proportion of patients (~30-50%) also have more subtle cognitive changes which may go unnoticed but are revealed by detailed neuropsychological testing. Sensory nerves and the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions like sweating, are generally unaffected but may be involved for some patients.
The earliest symptoms of ALS are typically obvious weakness and/or muscle atrophy. Other presenting symptoms include muscle fasciculation (twitching), cramping, or stiffness of affected muscles; muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg; and/or slurred and nasal speech. The parts of the body affected by early symptoms of ALS depend on which motor neurons in the body are damaged first. About 75% of people contracting the disease experience "limb onset" ALS.
The cause of ALS is not known, though an important step toward determining the cause came in 1993 when scientists discovered that mutations in the gene that produces the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) enzyme were associated with some cases (approximately 20%) of familial ALS. This enzyme is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from damage caused by superoxide, a toxic free radical generated in the mitochondria. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules produced by cells during normal metabolism again largely by the mitochondria. Free radicals can accumulate and cause damage to both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA and proteins within cells.
Studies also have focused on the role of glutamate in motor neuron degeneration. Glutamate is one of the chemical messengers or neurotransmitters in the brain. Scientists have found that, compared to healthy people, ALS patients have higher levels of glutamate in the serum and spinal fluid. Riluzole is currently the only FDA approved drug for ALS and targets glutamate transporters. It only has a modest effect on survival, however, suggesting that excess glutamate is not the sole cause of the disease.
No test can provide a definite diagnosis of ALS, although the presence of upper and lower motor neuron signs in a single limb is strongly suggestive. Instead, the diagnosis of ALS is primarily based on the symptoms and signs the physician observes in the patient and a series of tests to rule out other diseases. Physicians obtain the patient's full medical history and usually conduct a neurologic examination at regular intervals to assess whether symptoms such as muscle weakness, atrophy of muscles, hyperreflexia, and spasticity are getting progressively worse.
Related Articles Advances, challenges and future directions for stem cell therapy in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mol Neurodegener. 2017 Nov 13;12(1):85 Authors: Ciervo Y, Ning K, Jun X, Shaw PJ, Mead RJ Abstract Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative condition where loss of motor neurons within the brain and spinal cord leads to muscle atrophy, weakness, paralysis and ultimately death within 3-5 years from onset of symptoms. The specific molecular mechanisms underlying the disease pathology are not fully understood and neuroprotective treatment options are minimally effective. In recent years, stem cell transplantation as a new therapy for ALS patients has been extensively investigated, becoming an intense and debated field of study. In several preclinical studies using the SOD1(G93A) mouse model of ALS, stem cells were demonstrated to be neuroprotective, effectively delayed disease onset and extended survival. Despite substantial improvements in stem cell technology and promising results in preclinical studies, several questions still remain unanswered, such as the identification of the most suitable and beneficial cell source, cell dose, route of delivery and therapeutic mechanisms. This review will cover publications in this field and comprehensively discuss advances, challenges and future direction regarding the therapeutic potential of stem cells in ALS, with a focus on mesenchymal stem cells. In summary, given their high proliferation activity, immunomodulation, multi-differentiation potential, and the capacity to secrete neuroprotective factors, adult mesenchymal stem cells represent a promising candidate for clinical translation. However, technical hurdles such as optimal dose, differentiation state, route of administration, and the underlying potential therapeutic mechanisms still need to be assessed. PMID: 29132389 [PubMed - in process]Read more...