Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in a gradual decline of muscle movement and control and eventual paralysis.
At the Waisman Center, stem cell investigator Su-Chun Zhang, MD, PhD, uses this knowledge as a basis for developing innovative approaches for the treatment of ALS. Zhang pursues multiple scientific tracks to better understand the course of ALS and to develop therapies involving stem cells, which have the ability to divide indefinitely and differentiate into all of the cells and tissues of the body. Through genetic alteration of stem cells and by using cells derived from ALS patients, Zhang attempts to uncover the cause of ALS and screen drugs to treat ALS. He is also developing stem cell-based therapies to protect diseased motor neurons or replace cells damaged by ALS.