The University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have initiated studies investigating the use of cell transplant therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The research has been made possible by $11.5 million in funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Through Invitrogen’s primary and stem cell systems business, Life Technologies is providing support through its expertise in stem cell biology, cell separation, next-generation sequencing, and bioproduction.
The investigators aim to conduct stem cell research based on astrocyte progenitors. Astrocytes support the proper functioning and insulation of neurons. In ALS the insulation critical to neuron function decays over time. It is thus believed that administration of an astrocyte-based cell therapy might help regenerate neuron insulation, reversing the debilitating effects of the disease or halting its progression.
UCSD and Salk scientists will study two methods of administering astrocyte progenitors in animal models, including cervical and lumbar spinal cord injections. They hope to provide proof-of-principle to enable clinical trials within five years.