Team Starts Trial for ALS Drug Development with iPS Use

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, Dec. 3 (Jiji Press)--A Keio University team said Monday that it has started a clinical trial on a candidate for an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis drug found through the use of induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells created from cells of ALS patients.

In ALS, an intractable disease, motor neurons, which pass instructions from the brain to the muscles, degenerate and die. As the disease progresses, sufferers lose their ability to move their muscles. There are about 10,000 ALS patients in Japan.

The team, led by Prof. Hideyuki Okano at the university, created iPS cells from the bloods of ALS patients and transformed them into neurons with the disease.

After adding various compounds used as drugs for other diseases into the neurons, the team found that ropinirole hydrochloride, a drug for Parkinson's disease, is effective in curbing their death.

In the clinical trial, 15 ALS patients will be administered with the drug candidate and five others with a fake drug for about six months. Conditions of the patients in the two groups will be monitored and compared to study the effectiveness and safety of the drug candidate. Both groups will simultaneously use a conventional drug.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press