Coverage of ALS treatment from reprogrammed skin cells

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Below is a summary of media coverage from various sources of recent studies by researchers at Harvard and Columbia Universities in which adult skin cells taken from two patients with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, were reprogrammed into nerve cells in hopes that they might be able to treat the disease:

Nature, 31 July 2008: "Nerve cells made from elderly patient’s skin cells":

"Skin cells from an elderly patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have been ‘reprogrammed’ to generate motor neurons, the type of nerve cells that die as the disease progresses. It is the first time that an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line has been created from a patient with a genetic illness (J. T. Dimos et al. Science doi:10.1126/science.1158799; 2008). Like embryonic stem cells, iPS cells have the potential to develop into almost any of the body’s cell types and offer new disease insights. The researchers, led by Kevin Eggan of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Christopher Henderson of Columbia University’s Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease in New York, made the iPS cells using viral vectors to introduce four genes into skin cells taken from two elderly patients with a mild form of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)."

Time, July 31, 2008: "Scientists Achieve Stem-Cell Milestone":

"After nearly a decade of setbacks and false starts, stem-cell science finally seems to be hitting its stride. Just a year after Japanese scientists first reported that they had generated stem cells by reprogramming adult skin cells — without using embryos — American researchers have managed to use that groundbreaking technique to achieve another scientific milestone. They created the first nerve cells from reprogrammed stem cells — an important demonstration of the potential power of stem-cell-based treatments to cure disease."

HealthDay News, July 31, 2008: "Scientists Turn Skin Cells Into Motor Neurons in ALS Patients":

"Scientists have turned skin cells from patients with Lou Gehrig's disease into motor neurons that are genetically identical to the patients' own neurons. An unlimited number of these neurons can now be created and studied in the laboratory, a capability which should result in a better understanding of the disease and, one day, lead to new treatments or even the production of healthy cells that can replace the diseased ones."

The Independent, 1 August 2008 "Stem-cell advance for motor neurone disease":

"Scientists have succeeded in transforming skin cells from two sisters with motor neurone disease into the same kind of nerve cells being destroyed by their illness, raising the possibility that the new cells can be transplanted back into them to offset the degenerative condition. In a major breakthrough, the skin cells of the two women, aged 82 and 89, were turned into mature nerve cells. The achievement promises to revolutionise the understanding and treatment of a range of incurable illnesses. The skin cells were genetically altered by a laboratory technique that "reprogrammed" them back to their original embryonic state, before being grown into the specialised motor neurons that carry signals from brain to muscles."

National Public Radio, July 31, 2008: "Scientists Make Stem Cells From ALS Patient". A streaming NPR radio broadcast accompanies this story.

Los Angeles Times, 10:29 PM PDT, July 31, 2008: "Scientists create first personalized stem cells in ALS patients":

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"Scientists have created the first personalized stem cells for patients with a genetic disease by rewinding their skin cells to an embryonic state, according to a study published today in the online edition of Science. The researchers then converted some of those stem cells into the two kinds of brain cells that cause their crippling disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 31, 2008: "Stem cell advance could help Lou Gehrig's disease":

"Researchers are one step closer to reprogramming skin cells into tailor-made, healthy replacements for diseased cells. Applying the technique first developed by James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, scientists at Harvard and Columbia universities reported online today in the journal Science that they had turned skin cells from two elderly patients with the neurodegenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) into motor neurons, the nerve cells that become damaged in ALS. This is the first time that scientists have coaxed embryonic-like cells from adult patients suffering from a genetic-based disease, then induced the cells to form the specific cell types that would be needed to study and treat the disease."

Associated Press, July 31, 2008: "Cell changes may help Lou Gehrig's research":

"Using a new technique to reprogram cells, scientists are growing neurons from people with Lou Gehrig's disease, a possible first step in understanding how the deadly illness develops. Technically known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease damages the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, eventually leading to death. The ALS Association estimates that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.

"'What we now have in the culture dish is cells that have the same genetic makeup as the ALS patient and they are the same cells that are affected by the disease,' said Dr. Chris Henderson, co-director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease at Columbia University. That means that, for the first time, scientists hope to be able to observe the development of the disease in the cells and, from that, possibly begin studies of treatments."

ABC News, July 31, 2008: "Personalized Stem Cells One Step Closer to Reality":

"For the first time, scientists have proven that embryonic-like stem cells that are specific to both a person and to a disease can be manufactured using adult human cells. ...Researchers from Harvard and Columbia Universities used skin cells from two patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, to create stem cells and then reprogrammed them to morph into replacement motor neurons."

New Scientist, 19:00 31 July 2008: "Scientists 'reprogram' cells from sick, elderly patients":

"Scientists have grown motor neurons by "reprogramming" skin cells taken from a patient with the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Now they aim to study the cells to gain a better understanding of what goes wrong in the condition, and to screen for drugs that might help prevent the damage."

Reuters, July 31, 2008 2:27pm EDT: "Nerve cells grown from new-style stem cells":

"Ordinary skin cells taken from patients with a fatal and incurable nerve disease have been transformed into nerve cells in a first step toward treating them, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday. They transformed the cells from two patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, into motor neurons -- the cells that waste away and die in ALS. There is no immediate medical use for the cells, taken from two sisters aged 82 and 89, the researchers reported in the journal Science."

The summary is provided by Ben's Stem Cell News

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