Stem Cell Therapy Breakthrough for MS
A breakthrough in stem cell therapy for MS (multiple sclerosis) has been announced by experts at the New York Stem Cell Foundation. Although the discovery involved individuals with primary progressive MS, the door has been opened for managing other forms of MS as well as other diseases.
The discovery involved taking skin samples from patients with primary progressive MS and developing pluripotent stem cell lines. In addition, the scientific team created a protocol that allowed the stem cells to transform into oligodendrocytes in about half the time of existing methods. What does all of this mean?
- Primary progressive MS is a type of MS that occurs in about 10 percent of individuals with the disease. It is the most severe form of the condition and is characterized by symptoms that get worse slowly. However, unlike relapsing-remitting MS (the most common form) and secondary progressive MS (another form of the disease), individuals do not experience relapses and remissions.
- Pluripotent stem cells are cells that are capable of perpetually creating more copies of themselves as well as producing any tissue or cell needed by the body
- Oligodendrocytes are cells that make myelin, the protective covering on nervous system cells and the material that becomes damaged and destroyed in MS patients
Therefore, this new breakthrough allows researchers to get even closer to understanding how MS develops before symptoms develop and can lead to much more. In fact, according to NYSCF Chief Executive Officer Susan L. Solomon, “We are so close to finding new treatments and even cures for MS,” and the new findings “will undoubtedly accelerate research for MS and many other diseases.”
While there are no cures or effective treatments for any of the different types of MS, the relentless progressive nature of this most serious form of the disease is especially distressing for those who are afflicted. If ongoing and future research concerning this new breakthrough progresses as hoped, individuals with MS and other demyelinating diseases may have an opportunity to receive cell transplantation treatments.
Other stem cell therapy research
Another recent study, published in Stem Cell Reports, involved injecting pluripotent cells into paralyzed mice who had an MS-like condition. The injections resulted in disappearance of the paralysis, which appeared to be associated with two factors: a decrease in inflammation in the central nervous system and the release of proteins by the injected cells to regenerate myelin and fix damaged cells.
This research, which was funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is among the first in a series of animal studies that the researchers hope will lead to clinical trials in several years. It joins the NYSCF study and others in the quest to find a way to stop the progression of MS as well as ways to create new myelin and protect the nervous system from damage.
Also read about clinically isolated syndrome and MS
Chen L et al. Human neural precursor cells promote neurologic recovery in a viral model of multiple sclerosis. Stem Cell Reports 2014 May 15; 2(6): 825-37
New York Stem Cell Foundation