Motor Neuron DiseaseMotor Neuron disease is a progressive degenerative neurological disorder which has no effective treatment. This disease dramatically reduces the life span and the quality of life of the patient. Motor neuron disease basically begins with weakness of the muscles of the hands or feet and gradually leads to generalized paralysis. Once diagnosed patients have a life expectancy of three to five years, these people need help with daily activities. There are various physical effects of motor neuron disease (MND). They include weakness or muscle wasting - this is often first noticed in the hands or feet, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech, muscle twitching, cramps, emotional instability, depression, fatigue and pain.
The causes of the disease are unknown but there have been various researches which include studies on viruses, toxins, genetic factors and immune factors, nerve growth factors and chemicals which control nerve cells and allow them to communicate with each other, growth, repair and ageing of motor neurons.
A person with MND has various needs. And there is an increasing pressure on the caregivers of the patient as the needs arising from motor neuron disease change over time. More and more assistance is needed by these patients, especially emotional pressures and stress are high in MND patients.
There is no cure for motor neuron disease and it is recommended that the best way to help a MND patient is to help him cope with physical and emotional effects of the disease. For this there are various associations and help groups which provide information about MND, Home visits, Referral to service providers like attendant carers, nurses, speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Motor Neuron Disease and Stem Cell TreatmentStem cells are the master cells of the human body as they can divide unlimitedly as long as the person is alive, they serve as a repair system. These stem cells on division may either remain like the parent cell or may develop into a specialized function cell. Thus stem cells are defined by their capacity to self renew as well as differentiate into one or more mature cell types. They are found in various parts of the human body at every stage of development from embryo to adult.
The primary use of experimental stem cell therapy is to explore and offer potential benefits of stem cells. Engineered stem cells help in slowing down or stopping further deterioration caused by the disease. In clinical trials stem cell therapy also are tested to see if stem cells can reverse the effects of the disease.
As there is o effective treatment of this disease, the ideal curative treatment in MND patients is replacement of degenerated or lost cells. It has been studies that there is possibility of facilitating a possible cure with the help of transplanted Adult mesenchymal stem cells as they have the potential to differentiate into functional neural cell types.
In motorneuron disease nerve cells that control movement, located both in the spinal cord and in the brain, degenerate and die. These cells control muscle movement. Because in the motorneuron disease nerve cells affected belong to both the spinal cord and the brain, the prospective of treatment through stem cell has to focus on replacement of both types of cells. Any cell-replacement therapy to be effective would have to aim at restoration of the functions of both groups of nerve cells. As also with other neurological disorders for the brain and spinal cord to be able to function appropriately, the therapy should ensure that the new cells become integrated into the existing circuits. Thus it is felt that extensive laboratory research is necessary before undertaking clinical trials involving motorneuron disease patients.
It is felt and researched through clinical trials to make use of stem cells in alleviating the symptoms of MND and even try reverting progression of the disease. The stem cells on transplantation into the spinal cord with motorneuron disease, exhibited positive improvement. Stem cells appeaed to repair the sick and injured nerve cells and prevented them from dying and improved their functions.
With advancement in stem cell research, researches are hopeful that soon we will have tested therapies for successfully treating these patients. These therapies will not only be helpful in prevention of most of the symptoms but on administration shortly after diagnosis, when a patient begins to lose limb function , will prevent setting in of paralysis.
Thus stem cell therapy is next thing for MND patients which hold great promise for a bright future in this terrible disease.
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