Making new connections: Stem cells as treatment for ALS

By Kelly Lohr

The motor cortex in the human brain is mapped to match specific body parts. Body parts with more devoted cortex area are generally more sensitive or have finer motor control.

              Imagine slowly losing control of your muscles, first with a few twitches in your arms and legs or a slurred word here or there. Muscle failure will continue until it eventually stops your ability to move, speak, and breathe.  This is the life of a patient suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder.  Currently, there is little treatment for the rapid course of this disease, but James Weimann, PhD, of Stanford Medical School provides a new hope.

            Weimann is part of a team of neuroscientists using transplanted neurons grown from embryonic stem cells to replace damaged cells in young animals.  This finding is the first of its kind in that the stem cells can be directed to take on the jobs of specific brain cells while also making the correct connections with other cells. Weimann’s cells transmit information from the cortex, the neural tissue that is outermost part the mammalian brain, specifically areas needed for motor function.

             Up until this point, the issue of stem cell transplantation in the brain was making the proper neuronal connections.  As an adult organism, creating the accurate connections in the nervous is extremely complex.  During development, superfluous neural connections deteriorate with lack of use. Only the pathways with the most activity remain in adulthood.  The chemical or physical signals that once lead the way in development are no longer present.  Without such cues, it is difficult for neurons to reach their target areas. For example, the stem cells created in Weimann’s lab must make connections with motor cortex in order to be an effective treatment for disorders like ALS or a traumatic brain injury.  Incorrect connections could result in further erratic brain function.

A step in the processing of human embryonic stem cells.

           While Weimann’s work holds a lot of potential for further progress and treatments, the studies have involved transplantation in young animal models.  Since the majority of neurodegeneration takes place in older adults, the next step will be to explore stem cell transplantation in adult animals.  Weimann and his team are hopeful that these newest findings will soon be used in treatment of neurons that are lost or damaged due to spinal cord injuries or diseases like ALS.

Published by

Kelly Lohr

Kelly is a senior neuroscience major from Norvelt, PA. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience after graduation.

38 thoughts on “Making new connections: Stem cells as treatment for ALS”

  1. While Weimann’s work holds a lot of potential for further progress and treatments, the studies have involved transplantation in young animal models.

  2. The logistical and organizational nature of architectural design and production shares many aspects with what might be considered choreographic thinking, as designers have to mobilize complex material processes and work through the

  3. While Weimann’s work holds a lot of potential for further progress and treatments, the studies have involved transplantation in young animal models.

  4. hey buddy,this is one of the best posts that I’ve ever seen; you may include some more ideas in the same theme. I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post.

  5. Monday is a very important date, because the topic of was finally brought up. I looked everywhere to find things related to traumatic injuries , and finally I found it! Going to get a cup of Coffee and read on.

  6. is a subject that I am interested in. Its very hard to find articles related to traumatic injuries , but finally on Tuesday I did it, Yeah! Let me get whats left of my pizza and finish reading.

  7. Why didn’t I think about this? I hear exactly what your saying and I’m so happy that I came across your blog. You really know what your talking about, and you made me feel like I should learn more about this. Thanks for this; I’m officially a huge fan of your blog.

  8. This research sounds extremely interesting. I am sure that if this became a viable solution to treat ALS, pharmaceutical companies would be clambering over themselves to get hold of the process’ involved to create anti-ageing stem cell treatments similar to what is described in this article….

  9. Great information. I got lucky and found your site from a random Google search. Fortunately for me, this topic just happens to be something that I’ve been trying to find more info on for research purpose. Keep us the great and thanks a lot.

  10. The advancement of medical field is obviously happening. Thank for this new studies that will lead to cure ALS. Looking forward for the success of this and I hope that soon they will discover also the cure for Cancer and HIV/AIDS.

  11. It is a adorable moment when we get some knowledge about our body parts at inner and its working. To become a good doctors should have a lot study in medical line. Thanks for sharing this awesome post with us.

  12. It is a adorable moment when we get some knowledge about our body parts at inner and its working. To become a good doctors should have a lot study in medical line. Thanks for sharing this awesome post with us.

  13. My husband of 54 years of age got cured out from ALS diseases, He was diagnosis at the age of 48 and he have been on a sick bed for some years, he recently got cured with natural treatment from Dr Abu the traditional herbalist healer. I’m so much happy that my husband life is back again after many years he suffered from ALS . Everyone diagnosis with ALS disease should know about this natural treatment, Dr Abu email is been attached to my post reach him for help. drabumerecurecentre@gmail.com ‎ his contact number ‎+2349075383142

  14. A great thanks to him the doctor that heald me with herbal medice i am so happy today to share this storry I just hope my story gives hope to someone out there. I am 57 and i lost my husband 8 years ago to ALS and our ignorance then is to be blamed for it. Our doctor then put my husband on various therapies and he ended up on an electric chair and a feeding tube. Four years after his death i was too diagnosed with ALS and this time i never wanted to end up like my husband and i just had to seek alternative treatment. I tried various alternative treatments like acupuncture, cannabis oil, holistic treatment and several therapies from professionals from around the world but my situation worsened as days went by and i was closer to my grave than i thought, i cried most of the time watching myself fade out of this earth slowly and watching me become a shadow of myself, thought about my lovely kids also who was one of the major reason i needed to fight ALS. I was fortunate enough to read several testimonies online from various ALS patients on how a herbal medicine “ELIXIR” cured ALS. This was like a dream come through. I contacted Dr.osseja and placed an order for “ELIXIR” and 3 months later the improvement and treatment is what i can describe as magical. Today i am still very healthy and active and completely free from ALS. For professional advise and how to get the medicine reach Dr.osseja on (DR.OSSEJAHEALERHOME@GMAIL.COM) I hope you never give up because there is so much to live for thanks and you can also reach me through me through this email for any question
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