The research team from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio says they have developed a stem cell that can treat ALS, an incurable degenerative brain disease that attacks the central nervous system.
The team of researchers announced Tuesday that they developed a new type of stem cell called a pluripotent stem cell.
That means they can turn a single cell into a complex of different cells, with the ability to differentiate into multiple types of cells.
Researchers have previously used pluripotency to develop stem cells that can differentiate into different types of nerve cells and neurons, but the team said their new method allows them to produce cells that could be used in future therapies for diseases including ALS.
The research is part of the “Transformation of Cell Type” program that aims to create new stem cell lines to replace the degenerative neurological disorder known as ALS.
Researchers said they believe their discovery could be a key to bringing stem cells from patients like Anthony to people like many people suffering from ALS, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
The researchers said they have been working on the project for more than a decade and said the stem cells will likely be used to produce stem cells for regenerative medicine, which uses stem cells to repair damaged tissues and organs.
Dr. Jeffrey Burdick, director of the Department of Neurobiology and Systems Biology at the university’s Health Science Centre, said the researchers hope the stem cell could one day be used for other regenerative therapies.
He said the research was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University College London, who have already created stem cells capable of producing nerve cells.
The stem cells, which can differentiate in several ways, are similar to the cells in the heart, liver and lungs, Burdack said.
They were created using a technique called induced pluripolysis, which allows researchers to make single cells.
“Our aim is to get to a point where you can use these pluriporph cells in a therapeutic context,” Burdahick said.
“This is a step towards that.”
In addition to Burdock, other researchers on the team include Dr. James Hwang, a professor of medicine at the medical school, and Dr. David Rutter, an associate professor of bioengineering.
The work was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.