Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews


Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook







Stem cell hope for multiple sclerosis

01 February 2009

By Dr Rebecca Robey

Appeared in BioNews 493

A promising new stem cell therapy has reversed the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the first time. In a small clinical trial published in the journal Lancet Neurology, researchers from the Northwestern Freinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, US, treated MS sufferers with their own stem cells, resulting in significant relief of neurological dysfunction in over 80 per cent of those treated and disease stabilisation in the rest.

MS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, destroying the myelin sheath - the fatty coating that surrounds nerve cells and is essential for nerve cell signalling. It is a progressive disease with no cure. In the first stage of illness, known as relapsing-remitting MS, the individual experiences intermittent bouts of symptoms such as blurred vision; loss of balance and coordination; weakness or paralysis of limbs; and incontinence. In between relapses a full or partial recovery is made. In the second stage of the disease, which usually develops within 10 to 15 years from original onset, gradual but permanent neurological damage occurs.

In the new study, the researcher isolated haemopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from the bone marrow of 21 MS sufferers and stored them frozen whilst they treated the patients with chemotherapy to destroy all the immune cells, known as lymphocytes, in their body. After the patients had been depleted of these cells, the researchers replenished their immune system by transplanting the stored HSCs back into their bone marrow. The HSCs formed new lymphocytes which did not attack the myelin sheath. Study leader, Professor Richard Burt said: 'we focus on destroying only the immune component of the bone marrow and then regenerate the immune component, which makes the procedure much safer and less toxic then traditional chemotherapy for cancer'.

Patients were selected for the trial if they were in the early relapsing-remitting stage of MS but had not responded to conventional drug treatments which can sometimes help to relieve early symptoms. After receiving stem cell transplantation, the trial patients were monitored for an average of three years and their disability levels were assessed using the Expanded Standard Disability Status Scale. Seventeen of the 21 patients improved by least one point and the remaining four individuals showed disease stabilisation. Unfortunately, in previous studies this treatment has proved ineffective in late-stage MS patients.

Dr Doug Brown, research manager at the MS Society said: 'it's exciting to see that in this trial not only is progression of disability halted, but damage appears to be reversed. Stem cells are showing more and more potential in the treatment of MS and the challenge we now face is proving their effectiveness in trials involving large numbers of people'. These trials are now underway in the US, Canada and Brazil.

 

SOURCES & REFERENCES
BBC News Online | 30 January 2009
 
New Scientist | 30 January 2009
 
Stem cell therapy 'reduces symptoms of multiple sclerosis'
The Times | 30 January 2009
 
ScienceDaily | 29 January 2009
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

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.... [Read More]
27 April 2009 - by Alison Cranage 
A report published in the Journal of Translational Medicine shows that stem cells taken from patients' adipose (fat) tissue may be able help relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). In the preliminary study by researchers from Medistem Inc. and the Division of Neurosurgery, University of California... [Read More]
09 February 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Researchers from the UK and Canada have discovered a gene which increases the risk of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in people deficient in vitamin D - the so-called 'sunshine vitamin'. The study, published in the journal PLoS Genetics, may help to explain why MS is more common in countries... [Read More]

09 June 2008 - by Alison Cranage 
Scientists at the University of Rochester, New York, have spectacularly improved the condition of mice with a normally fatal neurological disease, by injecting them with human stem cells. The research was published in the journal Cell: Stem Cell last week, and has positive implications for the treatment... [Read More]
01 October 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
By Katy Sinclair: Tests taking place at the Frenchay Hospital near Bristol, UK, have raised hopes that stem cell injections could reverse the physical decline experienced by multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The trial, led by Neil Scolding, professor of clinical neurosciences for North Bristol NHS Trust, involves injecting patients with... [Read More]
22 April 2003 - by BioNews 
Injections of adult stem cells appear to have cured paralysis in mice affected by a form of multiple sclerosis (MS), a team of Italian researchers reported in Nature last week. The scientists, based at the Stem Cell Research Institute at the San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, hope that a similar treatment... [Read More]
22 April 2002 - by BioNews 
Researchers in the US have shown, in a small study, that stem cell transplants may help sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS), a degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system. The study showed that transplants of stem cells appeared to halt the deterioration of MS patients. The results of the research... [Read More]

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to Login or Register to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

 


 

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation

The Progress Educational Trust was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2011

Good Fundraising Code

Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details