Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a disease in which certain nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord slowly die. These nerve cells are called motor neurons, and they control the muscles that allow you to move the parts of your body. ALS is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. People who have ALS gradually become more disabled. How quickly the disease gets worse is different for everyone. Some people live with ALS for several years. But over time, ALS makes it hard to walk, speak, eat, swallow, and breathe. These problems can lead to injury, illness, and eventually death. In most cases, death will occur within 3 to 5 years after symptoms begin, although some people do live for many years, even decades. Doctors don’t know what causes ALS. In about 1 case out of 10, it runs in families. This means that 9 times out of 10, with ALS doesn’t have a family member with the disease.


At the onset of ALS the symptoms may be so slight that they are frequently overlooked. With regard to the appearance of symptoms and the progression of the illness, the course of the disease may include the following [1] [2]:

  • Muscle weakness in one or more of the following: hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech, swallowing or breathing.
  • Twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially those in the hands and feet.
  • Impairment of the use of the arms and legs.
  • “Thick speech” and difficulty in projecting the voice.
  • In more advanced stages, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and swallowing.


There is no cure for ALS, but treatment can help you stay strong and independent for as long as possible. Traditional treatment options include:

  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Supportive devices and equipment
  • Medicines
  • A feeding tube
  • Breathing devices

A medicine called riluzole (Rilutek) may prolong survival by about 2 months. But it doesn’t improve symptoms or quality of life in ways that people with ALS, their caregivers, or their doctors have been able to notice. Most people tolerate riluzole very well, but it can cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, and coughing. [3]

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Stem cells have emerged as a major tool for research into the causes of ALS, and in the search for new management strategies. In the past decade, great accomplishments have been made in the development and clinical translation of stem cell therapies for ALS. These therapies are considered experimental. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) stand out as cells that appear capable of protecting motor neurons (MNs), differentiating into multiple neural cell types, modulating immune cell roles, and reducing central nervous system (CNS) inflammation. The success of MSCs in delaying disease onset, improving motor function, and increasing survival in preclinical models of ALS has resulted in multiple clinical trials of MSC therapy in patients with ALS. These trials have established the safety of MSC delivery for CNS applications, opening the door for larger late-phase trials to better understand the effectiveness of MSC therapy in humans. The development of a therapy that can support or restore MN function and attenuate toxicity in the spinal cord provides the most comprehensive approach for managing ALS. [4][5]
If you have ALS and are interested in learning about stem cells from experts, then contact us.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Minguell J. J., Allers C., Jones J. A., Ganji S. S. Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells Infusion to an ALS Patient Proved to be Safe and Capable to Initiate Clinical Recuperation.
  2. Lewis CM, Suzuki M. Therapeutic applications of mesenchymal stem cells for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 2014;5(2):32. doi:10.1186/scrt421.

Stem cells therapy for ALS.

Mazzini L, Vescovi A, Cantello R, Gelati M, Vercelli A.

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2016;16(2):187-99. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2016.1116516. Review

Mesenchymal Stem Cells in the Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Hajivalili M, Pourgholi F, Kafil HS, Jadidi-Niaragh F, Yousefi M.

Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2016;11(1):41-50. Review.

Stem cells for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis modeling and therapy: myth or fact?

Coatti GC, Beccari MS, Olávio TR, Mitne-Neto M, Okamoto OK, Zatz M.

Cytometry A. 2015 Mar;87(3):197-211. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.22630. Review.

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: signals for hope?

Allers C, Jones JA, Lasala GP, Minguell JJ.

Regen Med. 2014;9(5):637-47. doi: 10.2217/rme.14.30. Review.

Mesenchymal stem cells: potential in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Tanna T, Sachan V.

Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014;9(6):513-21. Review.

Therapeutic applications of mesenchymal stem cells for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Lewis CM, Suzuki M.

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014;5(2):32. Review.

Stem cell transplantation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: therapeutic potential and perspectives on clinical translation.

Faravelli I, Riboldi G, Nizzardo M, Simone C, Zanetta C, Bresolin N, Comi GP, Corti S.

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Sep;71(17):3257-68. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1613-4. Review

Phase I trial of repeated intrathecal autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cellsin amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Oh KW, Moon C, Kim HY, Oh SI, Park J, Lee JH, Chang IY, Kim KS, Kim SH.

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2015 Jun;4(6):590-7. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2014-0212.

Safety and immunological effects of mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in patients with multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Karussis D, Karageorgiou C, Vaknin-Dembinsky A, Gowda-Kurkalli B, Gomori JM, Kassis I, Bulte JW, Petrou P, Ben-Hur T, Abramsky O, Slavin S.

Arch Neurol. 2010 Oct;67(10):1187-94. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2010.248.