iPS Cell Advances for ALS Patient

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President on July 31, 2008

Big news today with more advances with iPS cells.

Harvard and Columbia scientists have for the first time used a new technique to transform an ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) patient’s skin cells into motor neurons, a process that may be used in the future to create tailor-made cells to treat the debilitating disease. The research – led by Kevin Eggan, Ph.D. of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute – will be published July 31 in the online version of the journal Science.

This is the first time that skin cells from a chronically-ill patient have been reprogrammed into a stem cell-like state, and then coaxed into the specific cell types that would be needed to understand and treat the disease.

Though cell replacement therapies are probably still years away, the new cells will solve a problem that has hindered ALS research for years: the inability to study a patient’s motor neurons in the laboratory.”

And this from Nature News today:

“The study shows that iPS cells can be made even from octogenarians with a chronic neurodegenerative disease, although making human iPS cells may be more difficult the older the patient is. Eggan’s team was able to generate seven cell lines from the 82-year-old and one line from her 89-year-old sister — the team went on to characterize just the former’s cells.

The paper is expected to be the first in a wave of publications describing the generation of iPS cells from patients with specific diseases. Although results are not yet reported in the peer-reviewed literature, posters at a stem-cell meeting in June described iPS cell lines from people with Alzheimer’s disease, Down’s syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and more.”

Ethical advances in regenerative medicine. Great news.

Previous post:

Next post: