Thanks to their immunomodulatory, tissue-protective and regenerative properties, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are a promising approach for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); however, trials are limited and few follow-up studies have been published. This post-hoc analysis aims to describe the potential long-term effects of MSCs in ALS, analyzing data from two phase 1 clinical trials in ALS patients conducted by our group in 2002 and 2006.
We conducted two consecutive phase 1 prospective, open, pilot clinical trials, enrolling a total of 19 ALS patients. We followed patients for the duration of the disease. For each patient, we used the European Network to Cure ALS (ENCALS) survival prediction model to retrospectively calculate the expected survival at diagnosis. We then compared the predicted disease duration with the observed survival, analyzing patients at a single-patient level.
Using the ENCALS model, we predicted short survival in one patient, intermediate survival in three patients, long survival in three patients and very long survival in 12 patients. The difference between predicted and observed survival for the whole group was significant and demonstrated a mean predicted survival of 70.79 months (standard deviation [SD], 27.53) and a mean observed survival of 118.8 months (SD, 89.26) (P = 0.016). Based on the monthly ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised progression rate (median, 0.64/month), we considered 10 of 19 patients slow progressors and nine of 19 patients fast progressors. Of the slow progressors, eight of 10 (80%) had significantly increased disease duration compared with predicted, and only two (20%) had decreased estimated disease duration. By contrast, five of nine (55%) fast progressors had increased disease duration, whereas four (45%) had decreased disease duration. To date, four patients are still alive.
The current study represents the first very long-term analysis of survival as an effect of MSC focal transplantation in the central nervous system of ALS patients, demonstrating that MSC transplantation could potentially slow down ALS progression and improve survival. Due to the interindividual variability in clinical course, at the current state of our knowledge, we cannot generalize the results, but these data provide new insights for planning the next generation of efficacy MSC clinical trials in ALS.
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Published online: March 15, 2023
Accepted: February 13, 2023
Received: December 2, 2022
Publication stageIn Press Corrected Proof
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