Researchers from University of South Florida have revealed that umbilical cord blood cells transplants may offer a treatment for patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Lou Gehrig's disease is a progressive, usually fatal, neurodegenerative disease caused by the degeneration of motor neurons. It is the disorder that causes muscle weakness, atrophy throughout the body and respiratory failure three to five years after diagnosis.
During the study, researchers transplanted human umbilical cord blood (HUCB) cells into mouse models with ALS.
Cells were transplanted at three different dose strength levels -- low, moderate and high -- to determine the degree to which dose levels of transplanted cells might delay disease symptom progression and increase lifespan.
They found that the moderate-strength dose of HUCB cells was most effective in increasing lifespan and reducing disease progression.
"Our results demonstrate that treatment for ALS with an appropriate dose of mononuclear HUBC cells may provide a neuroprotective effect for motor neurons through active involvement of these cells in modulating the host immune inflammatory system response," said Svitlana Garbuzova-Davis, the study's lead author from the Centre of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at USF.
The research team said that modulating immune and inflammatory effectors with HUCB cells could have a protective effect on dying motor neurons.
However, the researchers said that the mechanism underlying the beneficial effect of hUBC cells for repairing diseased motor neurons in ALS still needs more clarification.
"Future studies should look at multiple injections of smaller doses over time, in order to help translate this research to clinical trials," said co-author Paul R. Sanberg, PhD, DSc, director of the Centre.
The results are published online at PloS ONE (Public Library of Science).