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First off, there is some wonderful news: Diaphragm pacing system receives FDA approval for use with ALS patients. This is a device which extends time until vent by electrically stimulating the diaphragm. Note that this will not replace a vent as the diaphragm muscle needs neurons to release acetylcholine to the muscle fibers in order for them to contract. However, I urge all PALS reading this to immediately begin talking with your neurologist about whether this would be right for you. Here is some good information regarding the DPS.

Next up is the recent news regarding the Neuralstem trial involving stem cells implanted in the spines of PALS. Readers can see a poster-style synopsis of current trial data here. The initial results are encouraging, and one patient has even shown improvement. The next step in the trial is cervical implantation where the cells will have the chance to impact the phrenic nerve (the “money” nerve that serves the diaphragm and breathing). There is still much to learn about this technique before it is available to but a few. Remember that this is still a safety trial. I would urge readers to consider the words of Neuralstem’s CEO.

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