Stem Cell Transplants – an Exciting MS Therapy Development

Stem Cell Transplants – an Exciting MS Therapy Development

Stem cell treatment of MS, which came under the spotlight at last week’s 16th Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) when Dr. Mark Freedman discussed the procedure, is an exciting area within the development of therapies.

Dr. Freedman, professor of medicine (neurology) at the University of Ottawa in Canada, talked about collecting suitable stem cells from bone marrow and developing them in vitro (in a laboratory) to produce suitable stem cells to be transplanted.

Not being either a doctor or a scientist, but having MS, I am looking at this from a patient’s perspective. Therefore, this column will only include essential scientific terms.

Dr Mark Freedman.
Dr. Mark Freedman.

At this point, it is enough to say, Dr. Freedman said that certain stem cells have several distinctive properties that might make them useful for the treatment of MS – including the protection and repair of myelin.

Treatment of a mouse model of MS — the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse — with human stem cells from the bone marrow, has been promising. It has been shown to enhance the formation of the cells producing myelin in the central nervous system, and to reduce an abnormal increase in the number of astrocytes (connecting tissue cells that link nerve cells to blood vessels) due to the destruction of nearby neurons, Freedman said.

Freedman also discussed his own “MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS patients” (MESCAMS) study, a Phase 2a clinical trial, part of an international stem cell research effort involving nine countries.

The goal of MESCAMS is to determine if treatment with a single intravenous infusion of autologous stem cells (cells originating from the same person receiving treatment) is safe in MS patients with either relapsing or progressive forms of the illness. It will also attempt to see if it can reduce brain inflammation, brain lesions, brain atrophy, relapse rate, and slow disability progression. The potential of MSC to stimulate protection or myelin repair will also be investigated.

Results of all national trials will be pooled and, according to Dr Freedman, should provide enough statistical power to draw conclusions regarding the safety and efficacy of autologous stem cell transplants (AHSCT) as a therapy for MS.

Stem cell therapy already in use for MS

This international trial is well overdue with AHSCT therapy, which started as a cancer treatment including high doses of chemotherapy, is available — at a cost — to MS patients at various centers throughout the world, most notably in Moscow, Mexico, and Israel.

Anecdotal reports from patients who have been through this procedure are extremely positive. It’s a hard journey through the month-long treatment in the clinic, followed by an extended period of recovery at home and further medical checks, but it is a journey of hope and confidence in the future.

Two recent comments on Facebook stick in my mind. They were both from patients now recovering at home. One said she had that morning put on her panties and shorts (she lives in the Bahamas) while standing up, something that she had not been able to do for years. On another day, the same woman, said that she had been upstairs when the phone rang and that it was only as she answered it that she realized she had run down the stairs without holding the banister whereas before the treatment she struggled with the stairs.

A different person reported that she had just finished a meal and used her right hand to eat. Nothing unusual for a right-handed person, right? No, except MS had made using that hand impossible before she underwent that treatment!

Back at CMSC, Dr. Freedman showed results from a previous study in which neurological recovery was achieved after destruction of patents’ immune systems followed by and autologous stem cell transplantation. That is exactly the process involved in current AHSCT therapies with chemotherapy being used to destroy the immune system before ‘rebooting’ it with the transplanted cells. In the trial, Freedman added, the treatment also halted the damage induced by acute inflammation, further widespread damage associated with progressive disability and atrophy, and allowed or promoted disability recovery. This therapeutic strategy also eliminated the need for further treatment with disease modifying therapies (DMTs).

“Not a single patient required DMTs after therapies. They are taking nothing,” Freedman said.

Speaking to Multiple Sclerosis News Today after his presentation, Dr Freedman talked about possible future for these therapies.

He said: “The sky is the limit. We are able to make any cell we want. The next major hurdle is to be able to show that those cells, once put in, (…) are going to renew functionality, and maybe counteract wherever the disease’s process is that we are talking about, be it a genetic disorder, be it an acquired inflammatory disease like MS.”

I have to say that trial results are eagerly awaited by the patient population in the hope and expectation that stem cell treatment will soon be readily available as an accepted MS therapy worldwide.

Watch Dr. Freedman’s interview with Multiple Sclerosis News Today in its entirety here:

 

Tagged , , , , , .

Ian Franks is Managing Editor of the Columns division of BioNews Services. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media; during which he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain and uses his skills to write his own flourishing specialist MS, Health & Disability blog at www.50shadesofsun.com. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

28 comments

  1. Valerie Meyer says:

    Are there any stem cell treatment centers in the U.S. ? According to this article it seems as though overseas is the only place to go. Reason I am asking is because there is a center advertised online in California, who will do the procedure for 14,000, however it is strictly stem cell therapy, no treatment with chemo to irradiate the immune system as they do at the Feinberg center in Chicago .

    • Steve says:

      Chicago, Mexico, Russia, Israel, Italy and I think Germany have clinics that will do it for a price. There is a gentleman that posts here sometimes name Spiro that has a lot of information on it and I believe he went through it in Italy.

    • Ron Jimenez says:

      I am going to StemGentix in Southern Ca in two weeks to have my stem cells removed modified and retuned to my body via transfusion and nasally. The cost is 14000 dollars

      • Bob says:

        The one’s that I have listed use the Chemo to reboot the system and the result have been pretty great. Without the chemo they are just recycling your blood.

        • Ian Franks says:

          All HSCT or AHSCT involves the use of chemo drugs. They are needed to kill off the immune system before rebooting it. And, yes, anecdotal reports from people who have been through the process are extremely positive

  2. Diana Cross says:

    Does the taking of LDN help progressive MS.?
    I am thrilled to hear the news of stem cell treatment.
    But I expect it will be
    a. It won’t be available for 10 yrs
    b. The cost will be far from my reach
    c. I will be long gone before it will be available.

    It is such a nasty illness.

  3. Stephen E says:

    Nothing will come to solve our problems as long as we keep using the poison they feed us pwMS. Stop the flow of money for useless drugs and they will sit up and take notice. We deserve better.

  4. Stephen E says:

    Nothing will change as long as we keep feeding Pharma ungodly amounts of money for drugs that do little or nothing for pwMS. How much have they invested into HSCT or any type of stem cell in the way of conducting trials on pwMS? My guess is little to none! Take care all my fellow MSers

    • lisa gioglio says:

      big pharma wont let it happen cause routine treatments make more money. WTF I always thought america would not let that happen.

  5. Susan Matteson says:

    I wish there was some magical way to know how long the US and FDA will get this together for all of us waiting. I am on the list for Mexico and fundraising. I am 63 years old and have no time to wait. This last year has been the worst relapse in my 25 yrs with MS. My pain is so bad it makes everything I do near impossible. I want this now and will keep trying to get there as soon as possible.

  6. TERRY HELLER says:

    I AM 71 YRS OLD – EXCEPT FOR MS, EDSS 7.5 , AM IN GOOD CONDITION.
    SHOULD I EVEN CONSIDER THE CEMO. TREATMENT OR SHOULD I SIMPLE
    GIVE UP? ALREADY – 1 YR. AGO, RECEIVED 223,000,000 STEM CELLS NO BETTERMENT AT ALL.

    • Ian Franks says:

      Hi Terry, I am not a doctor and so my thoughts cannot be considered medical advice.The stem cells you received were not, it seems part of hsct, so your faulty immune system wasn’t destroyed. My advice to you is to contact one of the clinics for an assessment. Clinic Ruiz in Mexico is certainly worth askng. If they say ‘no’, you will only be where you are now. Good luck.

      • TERRY HELLER says:

        I HAVE YET NOT BEEN ABLE TO TALK TO ANYONE WHO IS SUBSTANCIALLY BETTER WHO RECEIVED THE STEM CELLS FROM FAT.
        MANY DOCTORS – MOSTLY PLASTIC SURGEONS SAY 60 TO 90 %
        BETTERMENT IS EXPECTED. THE CENTROFUGE FAT TO SEPERATE STEM CELLS THEN REINSTALL THEM. THE MACHINE COSTS 5,000.00 AND CAN BE USED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.THIS PROCEDURE IS A MONEY MAKING JOKE FOR THE MD’S, HAVEN’T TALKED TO ANY ONE
        THAT WAS HELPED IN A “BIG” WAY, PERHAPS 5% AT BEST.

  7. How does someone with MS get in a stem cell tryout program and is there äny in the United States going on now ?
    This is very encouragine to hear about something that can repair and make people with progesive MC being able to overcome this cripling disese after hearing for years that there is nothing yet that can treat this type of MS.

  8. Chris Yates says:

    interested to hear of any success at Swiss Medica. Considering this option for my wife. Concerned that it will be a waste of money.

    Chris

    • Ron Jimenez says:

      I had a similar procedure done at Stemgenix in San Diego on June 2016
      I had no improvements after six months with a cost of about 14000 dollars

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *