Safety of Stem Cell Therapy Investigated as Treatment for ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease that results in death within two to five years of diagnosis. Currently, there is only one drug, Riluzole, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for ALS. Riluzole may slow the disease, but does little to improve a person’s overall condition and significantly prolong life.
Researchers are constantly looking for a better understanding of ALS and using that knowledge to develop new treatments. One such avenue of research is stem cell therapy, although the method is controversial and not yet fully understood.
To improve the chances of developing a stem cell therapy treatment for ALS, researchers are first testing the safety of such treatments. A phase II clinical trial conducted by neurology researchers at Emory University School of Medicine is assessing the safety of stem cell research.
Researchers divided 15 participants with ALS — diagnosed on average two years — prior into five research groups. Each group received stem cell doses in an increasing number of injections. Researchers followed the patients’ progress and well-being for nine months, noting any side effects of the treatment.
The study, published in Neurology, found that the side effects were mainly mild, and associated with discomfort produced by the injections. While two cases of serious complications arose, no significant improvement in the patients’ ALS condition occurred.
ALS Qualifies for Compassionate Allowances in Social Security Disability Benefits
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is one of over 100 conditions considered under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowances Program. Because the SSA considers conditions on this list severely disabling, a diagnosis of ALS automatically qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits. For help claiming your benefits, contact the Disability Help Group at 800-800-2009 to schedule a consultation with our disability advocates!