Stem Cells Therapy for ALS

In the recent discovery of motor neuron diseases, scientists were able to convert cells isolated from skin, into neuronal cells without compromising their stemness. These promising findings are helpful in understanding some of the internal mechanisms, that may have direct as well as indirect impacts on ALS. So far, scientists could discover that stem cells play a major role in neuronal differentiation, which are being damaged in ALS. However, lot of questions still need to be answered regarding internal molecular pathways, that are forcing these differentiations to take place.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS is a deadly neurodegenerative condition, associated with massively damaged motor neurons. Due to this damage, the signaling cascade providing information from the central nervous system to muscles is being halted; leading to neuromuscular damage. The pathophysiology of the disease is often associated with locomotory issues, progressive deterioration of involuntary as well as voluntary muscular movements. Although the exact cause of this deadly outcome is still not known, scientists were so far able to figure out that various environmental and genetic factors are responsible for the same. It has been apparent that a perfectly healthy man can turn into a vegetative state, without any prior history of disease. Through conventional medicinal approach, only rehabilitation with physiotherapy and assistance can be offered, in order to reduce lifetime of dependency; however, there is no definitive treatment protocol developed so far. Contrary to which, people have started diverting their assistance to some modern alternative medicines, such as stem cells therapy for ALS; wherein symptomatic management of the condition can be achieved along with the delayed progression of neuromuscular damage.

Stem cells are identified to be the naïve cells of human body, with the ability to differentiate into cells of different tissues; when subjected to particular signaling cascade. This tremendous therapeutic potential of stem cells can be exploited for allowing cellular differentiation and functional restoration of the organ. In this regard, various clinical studies are going on, supporting the potential of stem cells in differentiating into cells of neuronal origin.

Technical advancements, in this regard, has allowed easy isolation of stem cells from some of the rich sources of our own body, such as bone marrow as well as adipose tissues. Once isolated these cells can be enriched with completely automated procedures and infused back at the site of injury to allow further differentiation of cells. Once inside our body, they secrete a strong signaling network to create a perfect microenvironment. This homing ability of mesenchymal stem cells is well known due to their strong paracrine effect, allowing stem cells from other sources also to gather at the site of injury. These stem cells further allow easy regulation of immune cells to initiate secretion of anti-inflammatory growth kinetics, which may further delay the disease progression. Studies have as well supported the fact that these stem cells prompt resident stem cells to differentiate into cells of neuronal origin. These newly produced neurons are believed to share same characteristic functions; thus, adding up functional restoration of organ.

Thus, stem cells treatment for ALS should be an ideal treatment module for neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, in the coming future.