ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
Treatment of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) with Stem Cells
With stem cell therapy, the progression of ALS disease can be slowed down and regressed, and even stopped completely. The success rate of the treatment is proportional to the patient's age, the duration of the disease and the patient's condition. As a result of the improvement in the muscles, the patient's quality of life increases significantly.
- The treatment of ALS disease with stem cells is recognized as a new method that the scientists have been working on since the 1990s.
- Stem cells have the ability to turn into nerve cells and muscle cells when they touch these cells. Stem cells are therefore used in the treatment of ALS.
- The number of cells to be administered is determined according to the age and weight of the patient. The treatment is performed in 3 sessions 45 days apart or in 3 consecutive days.
- The treatment protocol is precisely adjusted according to the patient's condition and a different protocol is applied for each patient.
- Following stem cell transplantation to ALS patients who have not responded to drug therapies or have not shown adequate response, 67% of the patients showed decreased weakness, increased appetite, improved psychological state and decreased spasticity intensity.
What is ALS?
ALS, medically Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Motor Neuron Disease, is a medical term describing myolysis and damage to the spinal cord. It is caused by the loss of motor nerve cells (neurons) in the spinal cord and the area called brain stem of central nervous system. Loss of these cells leads to weakness and wasting away (atrophy) of muscles.
ALS was first described in 1869 by Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist and pioneer in his field. For this reason, the disease was originally named Charcot Disease.
What are the symptoms of ALS?
The initial symptoms of ALS are not the same in each patient. Generally, weakness or thinning in an arm or a leg is the first symptom noticed. For example, holding a pencil, buttoning up, carrying a bag become hard or the patient stumbles while walking.
In some patients, the disease starts with difficulty in speech or swallowing. The patient himself/herself or their relatives may notice lisping or a nasal speech. Twitching, pain and cramps in muscles may accompany these symptoms. Symptoms may include uncontrollable crying and laughing.
Weakness spreads over time from the site of onset to the other limbs (arms, legs, tongue and pharyngeal muscles). The patient's daily life activity may be restricted due to wasting away, weakness and twitches in muscles of the whole body. S/he may become unable to do anything on his/her own. S/he can't eat, get dressed or have a bath/shower. S/he may even become unable to get out of bed.
The critical period of the disease is when the respiratory muscles become weak. When respiratory and nutritional deficiencies occur, the patient needs fast and close medical support. 10% of patients may have both ALS and Dementia (decreased mental skills due to disease).
Causes of ALS
The exact cause of ALS is not precisely known. However, genetic factors, exposure to environmental toxins, smoking and various chemicals that damage cells are deemed to increase the risk of ALS.
As is the case with many diseases, regional factors are among the causes of ALS. In three regions in the Western Pacific, Japan's Kii Peninsula and West Papua New Guinea, the rate of this disease is 140 cases per hundred thousand people.
Treatment of ALS
Since there is no common treatment method, case-based supportive drug therapies and occasional intensive care treatments are being applied. In addition, symptomatic therapies play an important role in improving the quality of life. Another factor is healthy and balanced nutrition, eating frequent but light foods, consuming liquids, and maintaining ideal weight.
Treatment of ALS with Stem Cells
Stem cells have the ability to turn into neurons, i.e. nerve cells when they touch dying nerve cells, and that being the case, they are used in the treatment of ALS disease. At the same time, the stem cells have the ability to turn into the muscle cells they touch. Therefore, they provide treatment for the weakened muscles. The size of the cells given is small enough for them to penetrate into nerve and muscle tissues. Therefore, the recovery rate increases significantly in early diagnosis.
First of all, the number of cells to be administered is determined according to the age and weight of the patient and treatment is carried out using mesenchymal stem cells (derived from the patient's own adipose tissue or bone marrow) or fetal stem cells. The decision is made according to the patient's condition. The treatment is performed in 3 sessions 45 days apart or in 3 consecutive days.
Upon applying stem cell therapy to ALS patients who have not shown adequate response to the drug treatments, 67% of the patients showed decreased weakness, increased appetite, improved psychological state and decreased spasticity intensity. 34% of patients were reported to have increased mobility and muscle strength of hands and feet, normalized reflexes, decreased fiber zones, better tolerability of daily work, (improvement in swallowing, speech, pronunciation) in about 2 months as from stem cell transplantation.
48% of the patients are advised to repeat the treatment annually in order for them to have continued positive results. 25% of cases required 2 years of regular stem cell transplantation.
This treatment can be administered at our GenCell Stem Cell Treatment Center in Kiev, Ukraine.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is most likely to have ALS?
ALS Disease can occur in all parts of the world and in every segment of the society. It's a bit more common in men. The average age of onset is 55. However, it can be seen at a very young age as well as a very old age. 2-6 in a hundred thousand of the world's population have ALS.
Is ALS a Genetic (Hereditary) disease?
90% of all ALS patients have coincidental and 10% have familial ALS. Therefore, the disease can be said to be mostly unrelated to heredity. Recently, many mutations estimated to be related to ALS disease have been found. ALS is not a contagious disease. A patient's relatives and those dealing with their treatment are not infected by this disease.
Why ALS causes loss of power?
In order to perform a movement, our muscles related to that movement should be able to contract voluntarily. Two groups of nerves, called motor nerves, serve for the muscles to contract according to need. When we want to make a movement, the stimulation from the relevant part of our brain is first delivered to the spinal cord by the first group of motor nerves. Other motor nerves waiting there are stimulated. This second group of nerves leave the spinal cord and go to the relevant muscle to make it contract. If the motor nerves are damaged, voluntary muscle contraction is impaired, and the patient loses power partially or completely.
Are there muscles not affected by the disease?
The disease does not affect all the muscles of the body. The patient can control intestines and urine. Sexual functions are not affected. The heart muscle is not damaged. The eye muscles are often the last affected muscles, and sometimes they are not affected at all.
How is ALS diagnosed?
Basically, clinical signs and symptoms are used to make the diagnosis. ALS, which is a motor neuron disease, can be confused with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) or Parkinson's disease in the early stages. Therefore, the diagnosis can only be made if the patient undergoes some preliminary tests by a neurologist or physician specialist.
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