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Stem cell trial for MS patients begins

01 August 2011

By Dr Caroline Hirst

Appeared in BioNews 618

UK scientists are launching a global clinical trial to test the potential and safety of stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

The phase two human clinical trial will begin in six months and will involve up to 150 MS patients worldwide. Researchers will harvest stem cells from participants' bone marrow; the cells will be grown in the laboratory before being re-injected into their blood stream. The hope is the stem cells will safely target, stop, or even reverse the damage caused by MS.

MS is the most common, neurological condition in young adults, affecting 100,000 people in the UK. There are drugs available to alleviate the systems of MS, but currently no cure.

Dr Doug Brown from the UK's MS Society said: 'Experiments have confirmed that these stem cells hold that potential - but these need to be confirmed in large scale clinical trials'.

The MS Society and the UK Stem Cell Foundation has awarded £1 million to fund the UK part of this global clinical trial.

The London trial, led by Dr Paolo Muraro from Imperial College London, will recruit 13 UK participants and will be among 15 to 20 trial centres worldwide.

'This is the first time that researchers from around the world have come together to test stem cell therapies in MS in such a large-scale clinical trial', said Dr Muraro.

This MS clinical trial will take three to five years to complete. If the therapy is effective, it will have to pass phase three clinical trials before it is offered as a treatment for MS.

To date, no stem cell therapy has been proven for MS, however these trials have brought 'much-needed hope' to MS sufferers, said Richard Sykes, chair of the UK Stem Cell Foundation.

MS is a progressive, autoimmune disease, where the body's own immune system attacks the central nervous system (CNS). Disease onset usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptoms include sight loss, severe fatigue, muscle stiffness and – eventually - physical disability.

BBC News | 29 July 2011
MS Trust | 29 July 2011
Research Matters
MS Society | 03/2011
Guardian | 29 July 2011


28 May 2012 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
A chemical produced by stem cells promotes recovery in mice with the autoimmune neurological disease, multiple sclerosis. Hepatocyte growth factor, which is produced by human mesenchymal stem cells, appeared to both repair existing damage and prevent future neurological harm in a mouse model of the disease...
26 September 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The short film 'Stem Cell Revolutions: A Vision of the Future' uses interviews to document how stem cells have 'vitally changed our understanding of the human body'. The film opens with a voiceover by the film's celebrity commentator novelist Margaret Atwood: 'Sometimes it seems stem cells are proposed as the answer to everything... What can't they do?'...
15 August 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Hill 
Researchers have identified 29 new genetic variants with a link to multiple sclerosis (MS). This brings the total number of genetic changes associated with the disease, which affects around 2.5 million people worldwide, to nearly 50...
08 August 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Hill 
More than £600,000 has been donated to the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for research into the use of stem cells as a treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS)....

06 June 2011 - by Mehmet Fidanboylu 
Researchers have found a link between genetics and the environment that may help to explain the development of multiple sclerosis (MS). The study, published in Nature Communications, identified how vitamin D obtained through diet or sunlight, interacts with certain genes...
13 December 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
Preliminary findings from a new research study have helped give scientists a new insight into how the body naturally repairs myelin, the substance that insulates nerve cells in the brain...
10 May 2010 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo 
A clinical trial investigating the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) using bone marrow stem cells has produced encouraging results, researchers at Bristol University have reported....
10 May 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
On 6th May 2010, the journal Nature Reviews Neurology published a new report about the future of multiple sclerosis (MS). The guidelines focus on the use of stem cell therapy. They were written by a group of international experts on the disease...

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