New breakthrough using drug Cocktail-Aided Stem Cell Therapy (CAST) to treat ALS/MND - by Wu Medical Center

ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)/MND is a kind of irreversible deadly motor neuron disease (MND). The patient's normal motor neurons will decrease continuously once they get ALS/MND and their movement function will reduce quickly. Past research shows ALS/MND patients can only survive 3-5 years. Until now there has been no cure or very effective treatment method. Even Riluzole, which had been approved by FDA as the only effective medicine that can be used, can only prolong the ALS/MND patient's life by around 3 months and cannot help the patient get any improvement in the body motor function disturbance.

In the past few years doctors in Wu Medical Center (WMC) started to use cell replacement technology with neural stem cells to treat the ALS/MND patients. The treatment can increase the normal healthy motor neurons level and at the same time they combined it with Edaravone (Radicut) and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Edaravone is a kind of free radical scavenger which improves ALS/MND patient's internal body environment. It helps to protect the patient’s autologous motor neurons and can also help the work of the new motor neurons differentiated from the implanted neural stem cells. NGF can also benefit the survival of implanted neural stem cells and effectively improve the function of new motor neurons, and therefore improve patients' motor function.

The clinical control study showed the treatment effect of a combination of neural stem cells and Edaravone (Radicut), NGF was much better than single use of Edaravone or Riluzole. The results were inspiring. Most patient’s movement ability improved and there was no more decline post treatment. The treatment helped patients reverse the progress of the disease and clearly helped to prolong their life and improve life quality. The new treatment method provided ALS/MND patients with a new chance.

Treatment focus:

1. Only neural stem cell therapy can be effective to treat AL/MND, because only neural stem cells can directly differentiate into neural cells. It is difficult for other kinds of stem cells to differentiate into neural cells, and their vitality is not enough.

2. Only with the support from the comprehensive drug therapy can neural stem cell therapy be effective. Because the pathological environment caused by the disease can also cause neural stem cells to lose function.

3. Transplantation method: it is not practical to transplant the neural stem cells through blood (blood vessels), because the stem cells transplanted through blood (blood vessels) cannot get through the blood brain barrier (BBB), which exist between the blood and the brain/spinal cord, into the nervous system, since neural stem cells need to enter the central nervous system to have therapeutic effect.

Authors: Drs. Li-Ke Wu, Xiaojuan Wang, Bo Cheng, Susan Chu, Xiaoling Ren and Shuangshuang Liu

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