On 22 September 2014 Neuralstem announced the results from their long-term follow up of three participants who were involved in their initial phase I safety trial. Here’s what the news means and what may be next for Neuralstem’s stem cell treatment.
What is Neuralstem?
Neuralstem is the company behind an innovative neural stem cell treatment for MND. Stem cells are immature cells that have the capability to become any cell in the body. By transforming these in to ‘motor neurones’ it is hoped that they could be used to replace the damaged motor neurones in people living with MND.
Stem cells as a treatment for MND are currently unproven. This means that stem cells have not undergone rigorous testing, by means of a clinical trial, to establish if they are both safe and beneficial in MND. You can find out more about unproven treatments here.
Neuralstem’s stem cell treatment for MND involves several injections of these neural stem cells into the spinal cord of patients. Previous research in animals has shown that these cells make connections with healthy motor neurons and express nerve protecting factors, which could be potentially useful as a treatment for MND.
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We’re aware that thing’s may seem quiet in terms of ‘big’ MND research moments… almost too quiet…
Well, today, the pharmaceutical companies Biogen Idec and Knopp Biosciences announced that the first person has been recruited into their clinical trial to test the effectiveness and safety of a drug called dexpramipexole.
– Please note: UK trial recruitment has not yet opened.
This is exciting news as it marks an important milestone of a drug reaching a new level in its development. It’s the equivalent of the drug going to University after going to primary school, secondary school and college and passing all its exams with flying colours. It is only by successfully completing these previous phases that the drug can be tested in a large Phase III clinical trial.
With a whopping 804 people with MND set to be recruited into this trial from 11 countries around the world, in three continents, it’s certainly a big trial. Although each centre is set to recruit approximately 10 people, it’s a fantastic opportunity for people with MND from around the world to be involved in this collaborative research effort to find the answer to whether this drug is effective for MND.
With strict inclusion criteria, we are aware that a lot of people will be disappointed that they cannot participate – more information on this can be found in our news in research article on our website.
The official Biogen Idec press release can be found here.