UPDATE 1-Neuralstem gets FDA OK to test stem cell drug in humans

* To test stem cell treatment in Lou Gehrig’s disease

* Gets FDA nod to test drug in 12 patients now

* Shares soar 63 pct in premarket trade

Sept 21 (Reuters) - Neuralstem Inc CUR.A said U.S. health regulators allowed the stem-cell research company to start an early-stage human trial of its spinal cord stem cells in Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal neuromuscular condition.

Shares of the company soared 63 percent to $3.05 in premarket trade. They closed at $1.87 Friday on the American Stock Exchange.

The trial, which will test the safety of the cells and the surgery procedure, will ultimately consist of 18 patients suffering from the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the company said.

Neuralstem has only received approval for the first stage of the trial that would consist of 12 patients who will receive stem cell injections in the lumbar area of the spinal cord.

ALS affects roughly 30,000 people in the United States, with about 7,000 new diagnoses per year, the company said in a statement. (Reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)