ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI, Cambridge, Mass.) and California Stem Cell, Inc. (CSC, Irvine, Calif.) said on July 29 that they would be working together on experiments to advance potential applications of stem cells in treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The new set of experiments will begin in August 2008 and continue through the end of 2009.
This effort is the latest in the two groups’ on-going partnership to understand how stem cells, and their derivatives, may be used as part of a therapeutic strategy to treat or cure the fatal neurodegenerative disease.
“It is no mystery to us in the ALS community that stem cells ought to be looked at and considered by researchers,” said Sean Scott, president of ALS TDI. “The work we are doing together with California Stem Cell will help to make sure that we are leaving no stone unturned in our mission to discover and develop an effective treatment that will slow or stop ALS.”
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in progressive paralysis and is considered fatal.
The disease strikes typically without an identifiable cause, indiscriminately affecting a new family every 90 minutes in the United States.
That incidence rate is similar to that of multiple sclerosis, but the typical survival prognosis given to a new ALS patient is only 2-5 years from their date of diagnosis.
Currently, there is no known cure for ALS and only one FDA-approved drug, with marginal efficacy, for treating the disease.
“ALS TDI is a natural partner,” said Chris Airriess, chief operating officer for California Stem Cell, Inc. “Their expertise in preclinical research focused on ALS is unparalleled. With ALS TDI we have access to a dedicated and passionate group of experts that can help to fully understand how stem cell derived products may play a role in a potential therapeutic for this horrible disease.”
California Stem Cell recently presented the findings from the two groups’ previous collaboration during the International Society for Stem Cell Research annual meeting June 11th in Philadelphia.
In that experiment, the two groups worked together to design and execute experiments aimed at transplanting high purity motor neurons developed and manufactured by CSC, into the spinal cords of mice with neuronal loss at ALS TDI.
The collaborations between ALS TDI and CSC are funded in part through a major, three-year, $18 million funding and scientific partnership ALS TDI entered into at the beginning of 2007 with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and its Augie’s Quest Initiative.
The ALS Therapy Development Institute operates the world’s largest research and development program focused exclusively on ALS.