Fort Smith man’s ALS symptoms subside in clinical trial

FORT SMITH, Ark— A Fort Smith man diagnosed with ALS says he owes his life to a clinical research trial, aimed to slow down the progressive disease.

The trial has ended, but he’s confident this could be medical history in the making.

Mark Bedwell was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The Fort Smith native was given three to five years to live, but he’s able to walk, talk, and even run.

“That is unheard of for anybody having ALS,” he said.

This is because he participated in a clinical trial out of Worcester, Massachusetts, that uses stem cell therapy.

The trial was run through the Isreal-based company Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics.

Bedwell said it ended a couple of weeks ago.

Bedwell said his ALS symptoms have drastically improved right in the nick of time.

“If we contract COVID-19, ALS patients could very well possibly die,” he said. “But if we get the NurOwn in our bodies, that could help us tremendously.”

Now he’s waiting on the FDA to approve the trial.

Bedwell said the data readout should be done by the end of November.

“Hopefully they won’t drag their feet,” he said. “Because people will ALS, we do not have time on our side.”

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