Scientists See Breakthrough in Stem Cell Production

Research holds promise for Lou Gehrig's disease
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2008 8:18 AM CDT
Dr. Stephen Hawking, who suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. New stem cell research has produced a potential breakthrough in the search for a treatment.    (AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
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(Newser) – A US team has made a breakthrough in stem cell research, growing new nerve cells from the skin of patients suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS. The work marks the first time disease-specific stem cells have been generated from a patient.The method could be used to tailor replacement cells to create a revolutionary treatment for the fatal degenerative disease, reports the Daily Telegraph.

"No one has ever managed to isolate these neurons from a patient and grow them in a dish," said the lead researcher. "Now we can make limitless supplies of the cells that die in this awful disease." Another expert called the research a "seminal discovery." The ability "to derive ALS motor neurons through a simple skin biopsy opens the doors to improved drug discovery," she said.