Stem Cell Products To Treat Motor Neuron Diseases!
Nearly 6 companies in the USA are developing 7 stem cell based products to treat the motor neuron diseases, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) include Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Primary Lateral sclerosis (PLS), Pseudobulbar Palsy (spastic), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Progressive Bulbar Palsy (spastic and flaccid), Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS) and Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA).
MNDs are characterized by slow yet progressive degeneration of motor neurons in the brain. Upper motor neurons in the brain transmit signals or messages to the spinal cord via lower motor neurons. The messages from spinal cord are then transmitted to skeletal muscles.
Upper motor neurons are responsible for actions such as chewing and walking. Lower motor neurons control movements in various parts of the body including chest, face, throat, legs, tongue and arms.
Scientists have not yet succeeded in finding a cure for motor neuron diseases.
Out of the 7 MNDs mentioned above, most of the companies have been considering the possibility of developing stem cell based treatments for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The products developed by the companies are in different stages of clinical trials. Out of 7 products, 6 are aimed at treating ALS and 1 is being developed to treat both SMA and ALS. Out of 7 products, 3 are in phase I clinical trial, 1 in phase I/II trial and 3 of them are in preclinical development stage.
Stem cells used in these products are adult and autologous (taken from patient’s own body) stem cells. 4 products contain adult stem cells extracted from bone marrows of patients, 1 product has embryonic stem cells, 1 has fetal spinal cord tissue and 1 has patient’s skin as its ingredient.
If these drugs prove their efficacy in treating the MNDs which can be known from the results of ongoing clinical trials, people suffering from various MNDs can be treated in the near future.