Indiana University researcher Chandler Walker, Ph.D., developed a stem cell-based secretome therapy that influences both the central and peripheral components of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) pathology in mice. Secretome refers to the secretions of tissue or cells that can be harvested for therapeutic or other purposes. Walker’s research, published in Neural Regeneration Research, has shown therapeutic benefits at various stages of disease progression in an ALS mouse model. In 2019 (Brain Science) Dr. Junmei Wang, Kirstin Zuzzio and Chandler Walker administered human ASC-CM (secretome) in an animal model of ALS and demonstrated that they maintained neuromuscular innervation when the treatment was given prior to the onset of this early stage pathology and when administered as a late stage treatment (at symptom onset) secretome was effective at reducing motor neuron death, delayed symptom progression, and extended the lifespan in the transgenic SOD1 mouse model. It remains unknown how well the observed response in the mouse model of ALS will translate to human therapy.
The authors were optimistic that their research sets the foundation for further investigations into the long-term benefits of early continuous ASC-CM treatment. Continued research focuses on the components of the secretome and whether exosomes play a key therapeutic role, as well as to investigate the site of action at which the dental pulp secretome therapy has its effects across different disease stages. Another area of interest was a future comparison of the therapeutic benefits of different stem cell secretomes and if the effects were repeated in mouse models of ALS.