Sept. 21, 2011
An Israeli company is conducting a clinical trial using a patient's own adult stem cells to treat ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease.) The method using adult stem cells was developed by professors at Tel Aviv University. Cells are taken from a patient's own bone marrow and differentiated in the lab into astrocytes, cells responsible for nurturing neurons in the brain. By releasing neurotrophic factors, which are proteins that can protect brain cells, the former bone marrow adult stem cells can protect and preserve brain cell function.
Prof. Daniel Offen, one of the developers of the technique, says he and his team bypassed the ethical and safety issues inherent in embryonic stem cells by using adult stem cells derived from a patient's own bone marrow. In addition, he notes that because the original cells are drawn from the patients themselves, the body should have no adverse reactions.
The clinical trial has been started at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center, but could be expanding soon to Massachusetts General Hospital in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.