For patients who suffer from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), such as British physicist Stephen Hawkings, there may be a ray of hope. In an animal study, US researchers helped recover every second paralyzed mouse by injecting stem cells into the spine. The cells migrated in the spinal cord to those areas most severely affected by paralysis and at least partially restored nerve cell function.

The findings were presented Sunday by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore at an annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans. US physicians have great hope for this well-known cell type, which has only been around for two years. From their point of view, embryonic stem cells could once repair weak heart muscle, restore worn joints, and repair a number of other degeneration problems.

"The study is significant and shows with the first examples that stem cells can restore lost functions in wide areas of the central nervous system once again, " noted lead author Douglas Kerr. So far, the effect of stem cells has been demonstrated only targeted in small areas of the brain after a stroke or Parkinson's disease.

The result is likely to improve the treatment of patients with paralysis from motor nerve disorders such as ALS and spinal motor atrophy (SMA), commented his colleague Jeffrey Rothstein. "In the best possible circumstances, the first clinical trials could begin in just two years."

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a creeping paralysis disease whose causes are still largely unexplained. ALS patients are completely paralyzed in the final stages, can no longer talk and swallow and often die a cruel asphyxiation. The Spinal Motoratrophy kills more toddlers than any other hereditary disease. The affected babies are struggling to breathe and eat food, often dying in the cradle. display



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