Spinal Cord Transplant of Neural Stem Cells Can Be Safe in ALS

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Spinal Cord Transplant of Neural Stem Cells Can Be Safe in ALS
Spinal Cord Transplant of Neural Stem Cells Can Be Safe in ALS

THURSDAY, June 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Intraspinal transplantation of human spinal cord-derived neural stem cells appears feasible for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but it's not yet clear whether the treatment provides any benefits, according to a study published online June 29 in Neurology.

The ALS study patients, who were from three U.S. medical centers, had first developed symptoms within the past two years. Each of the 15 patients received anywhere from 10 to 40 injections of neural stem cells into the spinal cord -- with the number of cells ranging from 2 million to 16 million.

Over nine months, most of the patients tolerated the treatment fairly well, the researchers found. The most common problems were temporary pain after the injections and side effects from immunosuppression medication. Two patients did have serious complications. "One patient developed spinal cord swelling after the surgery, and he was worse off after the procedure than before -- which is what we worried about going into this," study author Jonathan Glass, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, told HealthDay. The second patient developed chronic pain about a month after the procedure.

"This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with ALS, spinal cord transplantation of human stem cells can be safely accomplished and does not accelerate the progression of the disease," the authors write. "This study lacks the precision to exclude important benefit or safety issues."

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