AmyotrophLateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord2002 Dec;3(4):173-81
Department of Neurology, Laboratory of Neuroscience, Dino Ferrari Center,University of Milan Medical School, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, ViaSpagnoletto 3, 1-20149 Milano, Italy.
Until fairly recently, interest in stem cells was restricted to neurobiologystudies on the principles of embryonic development. This situation has changedrapidly in the last few years when neuronal stems and precursors were isolatedin vitro, thus allowing expansion and controlled differentiation of selectivepopulations of neuronal cells. This theoretically unlimited reserve wouldthen supply specific cells for transplantation in diseases characterizedby widespread degeneration of selective cell populations as motor neuronsin Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The recent evidence of cell transdifferentiationhas further amplified the potential therapeutic use of stem cells. Stem celltechnology is at an early stage but the desperate need for a therapy in ALSpatients may legitimize clinical trials in absence of conclusive scientific evidence. This paper discusses the premises for stem cell therapy in ALS.