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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. The primary progressive type of MS is characterized by poor progression. The MS patient often experiences horrible cognitive, emotional, and motor symptoms. Because there is currently no cure for this progressive disease, stem cell therapy is being studied due to its neuroprotective, regenerative, and immunomodulatory effects.
Stem cell therapy for MS has shown many therapeutic benefits. Not only do stem cells regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, they repair and regenerate damaged tissues. Adipose-derived stem cells are found in fat tissue and bone marrow, and these cells have other crucial components, such as growth factors, T-regulatory cells, and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Because MS is associated with inflammation and degeneration, stem cell therapy makes perfect sense.
In a recent phase II randomized trial, 21 patients with MS received human stem cells or mitoxantrone (medication). When evaluated, the stem cell group had significant improvement in many MRI parameters. The low intensity of the stem cell transplantation showed promising clinical outcome with fewer side effects. The effects of stem cells could improve late-stage progressive MS, which involves repair of axonal (nerve component) damage.
Early clinical studies propose that stem cells have the ability to promote neurorehabilitation by decreasing inflammatory cell infiltration into the spinal fluid, promoting proliferation of T-cells, recruiting local progenitors, and inducing normal cell function. This works by engrafting cells into the damaged CNS lesions. These studies were phase I and phase II trials, so final results are not yet published. Most of the patients treated showed radiological benefits after infusion or intrathecal transplant techniques. The two studies have shown decrease in the lesions at 6 and 12 months post-treatment.
Besides administering a single IV dose, multiple doses of stem cells have been supported in recent clinical trials. In a study involving 16 MS patients and some control persons, researchers found a high safety profile and encouraging clinical outcomes. The patients received full-term placenta stem cells. The stem cell therapy group had a significant lower disability score on total evaluation. So far, most human studies confirm a safety profile for stem cell therapy. Clinical trials are continually being conducted to evaluate and investigate efficacy.
In a large, multi-center trial, certain proteins and medications were used, followed by autologous transplantation of stem cells. There were 24 patients in the study who had progressive MS. Patients were followed for over 6 years, and 70% had no further progression of degenerative scores following treatment. An additional finding was that 35% of patients sustained improvement scores 3 years after treatment. Overall, the results of human studies offer encouragement for scientists and neurosurgeons everywhere. MS is a difficult disease to treat, and many experts believe that stem cell therapy could be the answer to MS treatment.
Patients who have been treated with stem cells have self-reported improvement in the following symptoms:
Avache SS & Chalah MA (2016). Stem Cells Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis – A New Hope for Progressive Forms. J Stem Cells Regen Med, 12(1), 49-51.
Pickrell WO & Robertson NP (2016). Stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis. J Neurol, 263(10), 2145-2147.
Amniotic and Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Treatments
The most revolutionary regenerative medicine treatments now being offered include amniotic and umbilical stem cell treatments. These are FDA regulated and contain growth factors, hyaluronic acid, cytokines and stem cells.