Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.
Russell N. DeJong professor of Neurology
Director of the Taubman Institute
Director of the Program for Research & Discovery
New Hope in the Battle against ALS
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes nerve cells to weaken and die. Some 30,000 Americans currently have the disease, which progressively destroys the neurons that control voluntary muscles, leaving affected people unable to move, speak and eventually breathe. It is almost invariably fatal, and until now, there has been no effective treatment.
Eva Feldman has been studying ALS her entire medical career, and after years of painstaking laboratory study, has developed the first stem cell treatment for the disease. With the support of Taubman Institute funding, she is currently leading a human clinical trial to test this new therapeutic approach, which represents the first time that stem cells have been injected into the human spinal cord. The trial is now in Phase 2, and so far 28 patients have undergone this revolutionary therapy, with no serious side effects.
At the same time, her team of scientists is working to improve the ability of the stem cells to deliver life-preserving proteins to the nerve cells under attack in ALS. They are also adapting this stem cell model to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which afflictes more than 5 million people in America alone.
Besides being the director of the Taubman Institute, Feldman also directs the U-M Program for Neurology Research Discovery, whose 30 scientists study a wide variety of nerve diseases, including muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury. She is one of the world’s authorities on diabetic neuropathy. Last year she discovered a previously unknown link between triglycerides, a common fat in the blood, and the progression of nerve damage in patients. Her laboratory is working to understand the mechanism behind this connection and ways to help preserve nerve function through therapeutic intervention.
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