Louis A. Cona M.D.
A brief description of ALS and the potential uses of stem cell therapy in relation to the condition.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a relatively difficult disease to understand and treat. It affects approximately one to two per 100,000 people in the United States every year. However, nearly 95% of cases are caused by unknown factors, with only around 5% being inherited from parents. Although ALS usually strikes around age 50-60, it can affect people of any age. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disease, and the current prognosis is two to four years from onset. Recent advances in stem cell technology have provided both new tools for researchers to fight ALS, as well as possible new treatments for patients themselves.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) occurs when the body starts experiencing the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. This affects both upper and lower motor neurons, meaning patients with ALS begin to experience both involuntary spasticity as well as weakening of the muscles over time. This results in worsening conditions, leading to difficulty speaking, moving, and eventually breathing. There are currently drugs available which both slightly increase length of life, as well as improve quality of life, but there is no accepted cure for ALS today. There has been a push in recent years to raise awareness to ALS in an attempt to promote research into finding a cure. This was most notably seen in 2014 with the introduction of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Researchers have turned to stem cells in the fight against ALS for two main reasons. First, doctors need a large supply of ALS sample cells on which to test treatments. Fortunately, a type of stem cell called an Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (IPSC) can closely mimic the neurons affected by ALS. Researchers need only small skin samples from ALS patients to create an indefinite amount of IPSCs in the lab, allowing for continuous testing on genetically identical cells to the patients. This capability provides a huge benefit to physicians around the world seeking different forms of treatment, all without causing any further harm to ALS patients.
Additionally, stem cells are being used in trials to treat ALS directly. Stem cells have the ability to seek out damage in the body and replace cells of any type. For this reason, stem cell transplants are being used in an attempt to both protect a patient’s healthy neurons, as well as potentially grow new cells to replace those that have died. Multiple published studies have been done attempting this treatment, however more trials need to be conducted. In the trials published in 2016, doctors found the treatment to be both safe and well-tolerated by ALS patients. Researchers hope treatments like this will be able to eventually slow to stop the progression of ALS, vastly improving the results of current drugs on the market.
DVC Stem is a stem cell therapy pioneer, offering stem cell therapies for years and has become a cornerstone of the medical tourism industry. Located in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman in the Western Caribbean, we offer patients a nearby alternative to traveling long distances and to less ideal locations. Our protocols are IRB approved, and our cells come from regulated, U.S. based, FDA compliant laboratories. We seek to offer the highest quality products, the latest available treatments for a variety of conditions, all combined with a world-class setting and service. Contact us today to request additional information.
You can view DVC Stem's protocols for ALS here: https://www.dvcstem.com/conditions/als
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