Bio. Anthro. Tues 6-9
Cell Replacement and Stem Cell Therapy to Treat Neurodegenerative Disease
Stem cell therapy is being used to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease itself, new therapies and treatments, along with a cure are currently being studied by universities and stem cell researchers. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which attacks the neurons in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary movement, eventually leading to respiratory failure and death (Kamel et al., 2008). The current course of action for a patient with ALS is physical therapy and, if their budget allows, cell replacement therapy. However there is presently no cure and the patient will eventually have respiratory problems and die from the disease. Adult stem cells (ASCs) and blastocyst or embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are being used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in cell replacement therapy, yet this only slows the degeneration of their neurons (Goldman, Windrem, 2006). Research for both adult stem cell and blastocyst stem cell technologies are the only practical option in approaching a cure or more effective treatment for ALS. Both of these technologies require stem cells, but are challenging to safely retrieve and utilize through the current treatment methods, which is why it is essential to continue to support and fund this research. Cell replacement therapy is currently the only stem cell treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, but researchers are trying to find new ways of treating and possibly curing ALS. Cell augmentation using stem cells could be the future of treatment for ALS but scientists are currently working to increase availability of the needed ESCs and ASCs to treat patients using cell replacement therapy. There are three different ways to harvest the necessary stem cells for neuron replacement: growing ESCs in vitro,...
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