A new stem cell transplant therapy may offer patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) an alternative treatment option. According to a recent report on KCBD by Kasie Davis, researchers are pointing to the success of an MS patient named Dan Tiel, who had been reduced to living in a wheelchair due to the progression of the disease. As a result of a stem cell transplant performed six months ago, Tiel is now living a totally different life, free of his wheelchair.
The transplant was performed at the Northwestern University of Chicago, where Dr. Richard Burt is currently leading a clinical trial to develop this treatment. “We give them their own stem cells that we had collected from their blood before we started the procedure and it regenerates a new immune system. We’ve been having very good response with the patients we’re treating,” said Dr. Burt. Currently, Northwestern University in Chicago is the only research institution in the country offering this stem cell transplant procedure for patients with MS.
Dr. Richard Burt’s research is based on the renovation of the immune system, using new stem cells in order to prevent the attacks from the immune system to the central nervous system caused by multiple sclerosis. The studies currently being performed aim to assess the long term results of a one-time treatment — an approach that could be used not only for MS, but also for other auto-immune diseases as well. Burt believes that stem cell transplant is a promising option.
Although the treatment is still experimental, Dr. Burt has performed the transplant in about 80 patients per year at the facility, and Tiel has said that his life completely changed after the transplant. “All aspects of my life have improved. I don’t even walk with a cane anymore. Do I feel like a whole person? Absolutely,” Tiel told Kasie Davis at KCBD.
In spite of the promising results, stem cell treatments such as these still remain a controversial topic. Recently, Multiple Sclerosis News Today reported on how the use of autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplants in MS patients in Russia and other countries have offered mixed results, virtually curing some MS patients but causing some fatalities as well, leading some public health organizations to caution the MS patient community before submitting to experimental therapies.
Watch KCBD’s news report here: