17 June 2003. The not-for-profit Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Therapy Development Foundation (ALS-TDF), based in Newton, Massachusetts, has entered into a collaboration with University of Chicago stem cell researcher Kimonobu Sugaya. Announced last week, the collaboration plans, with stem cells engineered by Sugaya, to test mouse models of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), a deadly neurodegenerative disease that results in complete loss of motor function.
Sugaya and colleagues have developed a line of stem cells that do not trigger an immune response by the host and can therefore be grafted into an animal without fear of rejection or need for immunosuppressant drugs. The Foundation has developed a mouse model of ALS that will serve as a platform for testing the stem cells. The latter will be grafted into the central nervous system of the animals to see if they can slow the progression of the disease.
The stem cells developed by Sugaya could be applicable to other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. For more information see the ALS-TDF website.-Tom Fagan.