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Stem Cells Show Promise With ALS

They helped tissue regenerate in mice with neurodegenerative disease

MONDAY, March 31, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Stem cells derived from bone marrow help regenerate cardiac, central nervous system and skeletal muscle in mice with an animal version of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), says an Italian study.

The findings were presented March 31 in Honolulu at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

University of Milan researchers took bone marrow stem cells from healthy mice and transplanted the bone marrow into mice genetically altered to have an animal version of ALS.

Within four months of the bone marrow transplantation, there were improvements in the mice with ALS.

"The central nervous system of ALS mice showed a fivefold increase of newly generated neuronal cells with respect to the healthy mice used as controls. A high level of regeneration in heart and skeletal muscle was also found," study author Dr. Stefania Corti says in a news release.

"Eventually, we hope these study methods may be transferable to studies of ALS pathology in humans, though much more research with animal subjects will be required," Corti says in the news release.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that has no known cure. It causes the degeneration and death of motor neurons necessary to initiate voluntary muscle activity. People with ALS eventually become totally paralyzed but most retain full cognitive function. The average life expectancy for people with ALS is two to five years after diagnosis.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about ALS.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, March 31, 2003
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