Groundbreaking Italian stem-cell research bears first fruits

Possible cure for ALS, other fatal degenerative diseases

Groundbreaking Italian stem-cell research bears first fruits

Rome, June 24 - Human stem-cell therapy could combat incurable degenerative neuromuscular diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, Italian researchers announced on Monday. Six patients involved in preliminary tests showed no adverse reactions to stem cells grafted into their bone marrow. "These are just the first steps. But we already have the green light from the National Institutes of Health for the next phase trials, which will involve six more patients and then six more. After that, we can move on to demonstrating the therapy can actually stop the disease," said chief researcher Angelo Vescovi. This is the first experiment in the world with this kind of therapy, which involved using neural cells from miscarried fetuses to produce unlimited quantities of stem cells. "Vescovi's reasearch is avant-guarde. If it is proven effective, the Italian method could be the cure for fatal diseases," said Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin.

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