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Open Access Transplantation of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Results of Phase I/IIa Clinical Trial

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive untreatable neurodegenerative disorder, leading to the death of the cortical and spinal motoneurons (MNs). Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (BM-MSCs) may represent a new approach to slowing down the progression of ALS by providing neurotrophic support to host MNs and by having an anti-inflammatory effect. We have designed a prospective, nonrandomized, open-label clinical trial (phase I/IIa, EudraCT No. 2011-000362-35) to assess the safety and efficacy of autologous multipotent BM-MSCs in ALS treatment. Autologous BM-MSCs were isolated and expanded under GMP conditions. Patients received 15 ± 4.5 × 106 of BM-MSCs via lumbar puncture into the cerebrospinal fluid. Patients were monitored for 6 months before treatment and then for an 18-month follow-up period. Potential adverse reactions were assessed, and the clinical outcome was evaluated by the ALS functional rating scale (ALSFRS), forced vital capacity (FVC), and weakness scales (WSs) to assess muscle strength on the lower and upper extremities. In total, 26 patients were enrolled in the study and were assessed for safety; 23 patients were suitable for efficacy evaluation. After intrathecal BM-MSC application, about 30% of the patients experienced a mild to moderate headache, resembling the headaches after a standard lumbar puncture. No suspected serious adverse reactions (SUSAR) were observed. We found a reduction in ALSFRS decline at 3 months after application (p < 0.02) that, in some cases, persisted for 6 months ( p < 0.05). In about 80% of the patients, FVC values remained stable or above 70% for a time period of 9 months. Values of WS were stable in 75% of patients at 3 months after application. Our results demonstrate that the intrathecal application of BM-MSCs in ALS patients is a safe procedure and that it can slow down progression of the disease.
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Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients; Cell-based therapy; Clinical trial; Intrathecal application; Stem cells

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2017-04-13

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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