Stem Cell for Neurological Disorders
According to the World Health Organization, nearly one of out every six people in the world have some form of neurological condition. That means that up to a billion people around the globe are affected by diseases such as cerebral vascular accidents (strokes), dementia, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy and seizure disorders.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, often debilitating disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS), disrupting the critical flow nerve impulses that transmit messages between the body and the brain. Although the cause is unknown, it is believed to be related to a decrease in the protective fatty coating, known as myelin sheaths, that normally insulate the axons (nerve fibers) of the spinal cord and brain. MS can be difficult to diagnose and treat as it is highly unpredictable and causes many different symptoms including chronic fatigue, numbness, blurred vision, memory loss, blindness and paralysis.
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a genetically related, progressive degenerative disorder that causes an accelerated rate of cellular and tissue death, leading to skeletal muscle loss and or extreme muscular weakness. In order to diagnose MD, a muscle biopsy must be performed. There are nine known kinds of MD. The majority of which, involve multiple body systems including the heart, eyes, brain, endocrine system, nervous system, and the gastrointestinal system. Recent studies involving stem cells and mice has shown promising developments that may indicate that stem cells may be able to regenerate lost muscular tissues.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive degenerative disorder that affects over one million people in the US alone. The cause of Parkinson’s Disease is not clear. Currently, it is believed to be caused by a loss of a critical neurotransmitter known as dopamine, that generates cells in the midbrain area. There is currently no cure for PD. At this time, treatment is directed towards managing the disease. mesenchymal stem cells may hold a promising treatment option for PD patients.
Millions of Americans suffer the after effects of cerebral vascular accidents (CVA’s) each year. Caused by an interruption or disturbance in the critical oxygenated blood supply to the brain, strokes may vary in severity. The symptoms depend largely on how much of the brain was affected and for how long. European researchers are currently studying the effects of mesenchymal stem cells to repair and rebuild damaged brain tissues.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a chronic, progressive degenerative disorder that affects the neurons in the brain responsible for movement. Symptoms of ALS are often rapid and include muscular wasting, difficulty with breathing, swallowing and speaking. There is a weak genetic link (5% of ALS patients may be genetically related), but the cause of ALS is not known at this time. There is currently no cure for ALS. Stem cell therapies are being investigated as it is hoped that they may provide regenerative properties that can slow, or eventually reverse, the disease.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that as many as 5.3 million people in the US have Alzheimer’s Disease, the majority of which are over the age of 65. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that worsens over time. Patients with Alzheimer’s may benefit from stem cell therapies, allowing them to enjoy a higher quality of life.
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