Michigan Daily on ALS stem cell trial

Rachel Premack

Those living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease — typically lose their lives within three to five years of being diagnosed as they eventually lose control of the muscles needed to move, speak and breathe. Treatment options are often scare.

However, new research at the University is aiming to correct the deficit of treatment options. Following approval by an independent ethics review committee, University researchers will begin to conduct a clinical trial using direct injection of stem cells into the spinal cord of ALS patients.

Principal investigator Eva Feldman, director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, said this trial could possibly result in new options for treatment.

“Stem cells provide a new treatment avenue in a disease where there are few other viable options,” Feldman said.

Lisa Bardach, a speech pathologist at ALS of Michigan, said Michigan has a higher incidence of ALS than other states, adding that the community is enthusiastic about the potential research.

“People who have ALS couldn't care less about those politics. It’s very exciting research because it’s something that gives us hope, and anything that gives us hope is a wonderful thing,” Bardach said.

The disease involves the degeneration of motor neuron — cells that convey impulses from the brain to muscles. Four percent of patients live longer than 10 years and most die of respiratory failure within three to five years.

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