How to Fix Myelin in Multiple Sclerosis
Scientists may have found a way to fix myelin in multiple sclerosis patients. The potential new treatment, which is still in the early stages, involves the use of cultured human cells from the placenta.
Results of a new study, which covered innovative territory, revealed that use of cultured cells from the human placenta may have the ability to repair the protective covering on nerve cells called myelin. Damage and destruction of myelin is a hallmark of multiple sclerosis.
Thus far the scientific team, whose members are from various institutions in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and was headed by Fred Lublin, MD, professor of neurology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, have discovered two important factors. One is these special cells, which are similar to mesenchymal stem cells, are safe to use in people with multiple sclerosis. The other is that the cells appear to have reparative properties.
Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to differentiate into a variety of different cells, including fat and bone cells. The authors of the new study noted that their findings suggested that the preparation of the cultured cells, which they called PDA-001, might be able to fix damaged nerve tissues in individuals who have multiple sclerosis.
The PDA-001 were tested in 12 individuals: six with relapsing-remitting MS and six with secondary progressive MS. Two different doses of the cells (low and high) were administered. An additional four patients were given a placebo.
During the next six months, all of the study participants underwent monthly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to monitor any change in the number or progression of brain lesions, which is an indication that multiple sclerosis is getting worse. The researchers found that:
- None of the study participants experienced any worsening as seen on the MRI
- Most of the patients had either stabilized or showed an improvement in their level of disability after one year
According to Lublin, the researchers suspect that the placental cells they gave to the patients somehow facilitate repair of myelin or transform themselves into cells that make myelin. Their goal, he noted, “is to develop strategies to facilitate repair of the damaged nervous system” in individuals who have multiple sclerosis.
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Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai