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New Stem Cell Treatment Could Help People Suffering From ALS

BOSTON (CBS) - Massachusetts General Hospital is testing a new treatment that could help people suffering with ALS.

Forty-one-year-old David Neufeglise was a healthy family man and mechanical engineer when he started noticing constant twitching in his arm. After months of tests, the devastating diagnosis came back last January as ALS.

"Hearing a doctor say it…uh, it takes your breath away," says David. "You think about all your hopes and dreams for the future and your family, and your career, and everything. And it puts all those into question."

David Neufeglise
David Neufeglise (WBZ-TV)

Life suddenly shifted for David, his wife and their three daughters.

ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is progressive and there's no cure. Most patients die within 3 to 5 years, so David was open to any potential treatments.
His doctors told him about a clinical trial at MGH testing a new stem cell technology.

The treatment from BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics uses the patient's own stem cells extracted from a sample of their bone marrow. They're multiplied and matured to make them behave more like brain cells, then injected back into the patient where the cells help repair the brain and spinal cord. Researchers hope the treatment can decrease brain inflammation that causes worsening of ALS.

Stem cells
Stem cell ALS treatment (WBZ-TV)

"These stem cells from people's own bodies can act like an anti-inflammatory drug," says Dr. Merit Cudkowicz, an ALS specialist at MGH.

The disease has already affected David's balance and his hand movements, but he says he's grateful to take part in this study.

"My hope for this trial is that finally ALS patients have a powerful weapon they can fight the disease with," says David.

He gets injections every eight weeks and is encouraged about what the treatment could do for him and others.

About 200 people are being recruited to take part in the clinical trial. Three previous smaller trials showed positive results. Researchers will know the results of this study next year.

For more information about the clinical trial, contact MGH Access Nurse Judith Carey at 617-724-8995.

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