Recently, the potential of stem cells in ALS research has been revealed in the laboratory and in the clinic. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are stem cells, often derived from adult human skin cells, that can be turned into other types of cell – including nerve cells (see picture). In a ground-breaking laboratory study in 2014, iPSC-derived motor neurons from people with an aggressive form of SOD1-related ALS were shown to have increased electrical activity compared to motor neurons made from iPSC from people who did not have ALS. The ‘ALS neurons’ did not live very long in the lab, but correcting the SOD1 mutation reduced neuron hyperactivity and increased their lifespan.

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digital illustration neurons