Transplanting mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is safe and can delay disease progression in people with active, progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), according to results from a single-center clinical trial conducted in Israel.
Six months after the transplant, a considerable proportion of patients showed no signs of disease activity, compared to placebo treatment.
The findings were shared at the 35th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), held Sept. 11–13 in Stockholm.
Dimitrios Karussios, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Israel’s Hadassah University Hospital, presented the trial’s results in a talk titled “Indications of neuroprotective effects in progressive multiple sclerosis following autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) transplantation: report of a randomised phase IIb double blind trial.“
Recent studies have raised hope for adult stem cell therapy as an MS treatment to slow disease progression and help repair damage to the nervous system.
A great deal of interest has been shown in transplanting hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), but some lines of research also are exploring the use of MSCs — adult stem cells found in several parts of the body, including the bone marrow, skin, and fat tissue.
An MSC transplant (MSCT) involves collecting a patient’s MSCs from the bone marrow or blood, and expanding their numbers in the lab. Cells are then infused back into the patient’s blood (intravenous injection), or the fluid surrounding the spinal cord (intrathecal injection).
MSCs have been studied for their benefits in neurodegenerative diseases due to their ability to reduce inflammation, to make the immune system less active, and for their capacity to enhance neuronal repair, including myelin repair. (Myelin is the protective coat surrounding neurons, which is destroyed in MS.)
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