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ABC7: UCI researchers studying ways to slow the progression of ALS

April 04, 2018


IN THE NEWS: ABC7 interviews UCI Health neurologist Namita Goyal, MD, and ALS patient Eric Schwarz about his participation in a clinical trial to determine whether an experimental stem cell-based treatment can slow, and potentially even stop, the progression of the disease.


There's no treatment, or way to stop the disease, but scientists at the University of California, Irvine are working on a way to help stop the progression of the disease.


One of the participants, is 45-year-old Eric Schwarz. He has lived his life focused on his family and his job in fitness. Now, physician visits and his fight with ALS fills his mind. His motor neurons are quickly dying off. “There was no treatment, let alone a cure. There was just nothing.” Schwarz explains.


Dr. Namita Goyal, a neurologist at UCI, describes the grim progression of ALS. "Within two to five years, they lose the ability to move, to speak, to swallow and eventually breathe," Goyal said.


Schwarz said, “I remember going to appointments and hoping it was cancer." Shortly after his diagnosis, Eric learned about the ALS Brainstorm clinical trial at UC Irvine. Goyal is investigating a therapy engineered from a patient's own harvested cells.


“These stem cells then secrete growth factors to promote motor cell regeneration, reduce inflammation and the idea is that their motor cells can live longer,” Goyal said.


Stem cells are taken from the patient and are brought to a lab where they are injected back into the patient within a month. That will happen two more times over the course of 28 weeks.


The trial is run by the UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic and sponsored by BrainstormCell Therapeutics.


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