Degenerative Nerve Diseases
Stem Cell Therapy for Degenerative Nerve Diseases
Facts and Figures
Source: Alzheimer’s Association & Dementia Society
Degenerative nerve diseases or Neurodegenerative diseases affect many of your body’s activities, such as balance, movement, talking, breathing, and heart function.
Many of these diseases are genetic. Sometimes the cause is a medical condition such as alcoholism, a tumor, or a stroke. Sometimes the cause is not known.
These diseases are incurable conditions in which nerve cells gradually degenerate, or die, for reasons that are not yet understood. There are many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob (prion) disease as well as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis, which are explored in more detail on our website. Many of these give rise to dementia, which represents a major and growing public health burden.
Degenerative nerve diseases can be serious or life-threatening. It depends on the type. Most of them have no cure. Treatments may help improve symptoms, relieve pain, and increase mobility.
Degenerative nerve diseases are also often linked to various forms of dementia which are characterised by varying degrees of memory loss, mood changes and communication problems, depending on the disease and stage of illness. Although dementia is associated with Parkinson’s disease, ALS and Down’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for more than two-thirds of all dementia cases. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers are working hard to find new treatments that can delay and potentially prevent the disease.
An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages had Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. This number includes an estimated 5.2 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Research Into Stem Cell Treatment
Increasingly, the use of stem cells for neurodegenerative diseases has become of interest. Clinical applications of stem cells for Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis has grown as an area of research, and although great care will need to be taken when moving forward with prospective treatments, the application of stem cells is highly promising.
Stem cell use for Alzheimer’s specifically focuses on the possibility of neuronal replacement and the development of nervous tissue. Alzheimer’s is a very complex disorder and the interactions of stem cells with the cells and pathways in the brain are still being researched.
Indeed the Alzheimer’s Association has stated that a core element its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research.
“The Association is committed to discovery of the causes, better and earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, prevention strategies and ultimately a cure for Alzheimer’s.
The possibility of using stem cells to create and replace brain cells destroyed by Alzheimer’s gives us hope that we can develop a cure for this devastating disease – and it provides several pathways for this critical research: Scientists envision that treatments that are currently being developed to reduce the brain cell death in Alzheimer’s – thus creating a healthier environment within the brain – may be used in conjunction with future stem cell-based therapies to not only stop the disease but also possibly restore once-lost functioning.”
Protect Their Future Health
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