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Stem cells in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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Department of Neurology, Laboratory of Neuroscience, Dino Ferrari Center, University of Milan Medical School, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Via Spagnoletto 3, 1-20149 Milano, Italy.


Until fairly recently, interest in stem cells was restricted to neurobiology studies on the principles of embryonic development. This situation has changed rapidly in the last few years when neuronal stems and precursors were isolated in vitro, thus allowing expansion and controlled differentiation of selective populations of neuronal cells. This theoretically unlimited reserve would then supply specific cells for transplantation in diseases characterized by widespread degeneration of selective cell populations as motor neurons in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The recent evidence of cell transdifferentiation has further amplified the potential therapeutic use of stem cells. Stem cell technology is at an early stage but the desperate need for a therapy in ALS patients may legitimize clinical trials in absence of conclusive scientific evidence. This paper discusses the premises for stem cell therapy in ALS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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