Michigan leads the path in nation's only clinical trial of stem cell injections for ALS patients

U of M doctors say next phase will assess safety

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) - University of Michigan doctors are one step closer to making stem cells a huge force in the battle against ALS as they prepare for the next step in key clinical trial.

Two years ago, doctors at the University of Michigan brought hope to a devastating disease, conducting the world's first clinical trial of stem cell injections for patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"We were able to show that was a safe approach." said Dr. Eva Feldman, the trials' principal investigator, "The FDA has approved us to move forward and do what is called a Phase II trial."

Feldman will continue to serve as principal investigator for Phase II. Researchers say the spinal cord injections will escalate in doses of up to 400,000 stem cells per injections, with a maximum of 40 injections.

"In this trial, we will be injecting stem cells into the upper part of the spinal cord of patients with Lou Gehrig's disease." said Feldman.

While the path to a cure is never fast enough, doctors at U of M say this trial represents a critical step forward.

 "Our goal is to continue to show this approach is safe." said Feldman, "And we will begin to look at whether this approach offers some benefits to our patients."

The first phase of the trial involved 15 patients. Researchers are still making plans for Phase II numbers.

For more information on how the trial will recruit local participants, log onto www.uofmhealth.org.

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