Embryonic stem cells are shaping up to be a promising tool for treating a range of diseases from heart disease to MND. With this in mind a research group headed by Dr Ivan Velasko implanted embryonic stem cells that had been converted into motor neurones into rat spinal chords.

The stem cells were well tolerated in the rats, but although it looked like the implantation prolonged the start of symptoms it did not extend the life of MND rats carrying the human mutant SOD1. Interestingly, the implanted motor neurones had a much lower survival in MND rats compared to normal rats.

The researchers say that this result shows that the motor neurone disease environment is detrimental to grafted motor neurones in the long term. However, this kind of treatment may be best used in conjunction with other drugs in the future.

Source: International MND research update -September 2009, Dr Justin Yerbury for MNDRIA

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