Scientists just reversed severe MS using stem cells
Scientists just reversed severe MS using stem cells

Scientists just reversed severe MS using stem cells

Researchers have cured multiple sclerosis sufferers with a high-stakes therapy that involved rebuilding their immune systems from scratch.

By using a radical and high-risk method, doctors at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada have been able to halt and, in some cases, even reverse the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS), an aggressive and debilitating autoimmune neurological disorder affecting around 100,000 patients in Britain.

This unpredictable disease of the central nervous system disrupts the normal communication between the brain and the other parts of the body. The patient’s own immune system launches an attack against its body’s nerve cells resulting in a variety of symptoms which commonly result in the patients being unable to walk, or their paralysis.

The clinical trial in Canada used 24 patients between the ages of 18-50 whose initial prognosis was to be confined to a wheelchair within 10 years. For 23 of the patients, the treatment significantly reduced the onset of the disease but in one case, the patient died. The treatment required the transplant of the patient’s own stems cells, which were purified, treated and stored. These were then reinjected into the patient’s blood following the destruction of the patient’s faulty immune system by chemotherapy.

Monitoring of up to 13 years found that treatment resulted in no further progression of the disease. In some cases, patients were able to recover functions that had been previously lost, including sight and balance, while some were even able to talk, walk and play sport again.

Jennifer Molson, one of the patients in the trial who has developed MS in 1996 at the age of 21, has said, “Before my transplant, I was unable to talk or work and was living in assisted care. Now, I am able to walk independently, live in my own home and work full time. I was also able to get married, walk down the aisle with my dad and dance with my husband. I’ve even gone downhill skiing. Thanks to this research I have been given a second chance at life.”

Nevertheless, this treatment is not without danger. As the patients’ immune systems are completely destroyed in the procedure, they are at huge risks of contracting life-threatening infections with no form of internal defence available. This is highlighted by the death of one of the patients who died of severe liver damage and a bacterial infection. This procedure, even when carried out under strict conditions and administered in specialised centres, is very dangerous requiring intensive monitoring and specialised aftercare for years.

Researchers such as Dr Mark Freeman, of the University of Ottawa, have warned that, “since this is an aggressive treatment, the potential benefits should be weighed against the risks of serious complications. Future research will be directed at reducing the risks of this treatment as well as understanding which patients would best benefit from the treatment.”

While this treatment does offer real hope for those with MS, it may not be suitable for all sufferers, especially those whose condition can be maintained through other forms of drug therapy.

Further trials are now required and methods into reducing the time that the patient is without an immune system must be addressed. Doctors and scientists alike are wary of raising hopes before more research has been carried out and the risks of complications significantly reduced.


  • About News

    Web articles – via partners/network co-ordinators. This website and its contents are the exclusive property of ANGA Media Corporation . We appreciate your feedback and respond to every request. Please fill in the form or send us email to: [email protected]

    Check Also

    Brian Laundrie news: 'We're not wasting our time,' police commander says

    Brian Laundrie news: ‘We’re not wasting our time,’ police commander says

    VENICE, Fla. – Six days into the search for Brian Laundrie, police in North Port …

    Leave a Reply