Neuralstem Incorporated recently received Food and Drug Administration approval for a Phase 1 trial to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) with their proprietary neural stem cells injected directly into the human spinal cord. They are the first business to conduct a stem cell treatment study for ALS patients.
ALS currently has no cure and no effective treatment options. Neuralstem hopes to develop both a powerful treatment and a potential cure for ALS with their research. World renowned doctors from the University of Michigan Health System ALS Clinic, the Emory Neuromuscular Lab, and the Emory ALS Center have been contracted to conduct the study.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that kills its victims by way of the degeneration and death of motor neurons, which control muscle movement, in the human spinal cord. Thirty thousand people in the United States currently suffer from ALS. Dr. Eva Feldman, the proposed director of Neuralstem’s clinical trial, reported in the article that previous stem cell studies on animals with ALS showed promising results.
In the animal studies, the spinal cord stem cells made connections with muscle-controlling neurons and protected other potentially endangered motor neurons. Feldman warned against premature celebration of animal trial results before human trials demonstrate the effectiveness of the treatment in human subjects.
The Neuralstem trial consists of treating ALS patients with injections of Neuralstem’s patented spinal cord stem cells into their spinal cords. 12 patients will receive the treatment and will be monitored and examined over the following 2 years to determine the results of the treatment. Eva Feldman will most likely conduct the study at Emory University with colleagues from the University of Michigan Health System and the Emory ALS Center.
Neuralstem is the first company in the world to produce commercial quantities of viable neural stem cells for use in the human brain and spinal cord. Rats injected with Neuralstem’s spinal cord stem cells lived longer than rats in a control group not injected with the stem cells. It remains unclear whether or not the stem cell treatment will translate to human subjects, but the results of the animal studies show great promise.
In addition to developing treatments for ALS, Neuralstem plans to direct its stem cell research toward finding treatments and/or cures for Ischemic Spastic Paraplegia, Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury, and Huntington’s disease.