Stem Cell Treatment More Effective In Severe MS

shutterstock_152357099Multiple sclerosis is a type of disease that experts say affects the body’s own immune system. It is characterized by a condition which causes the body’s own immune cells to start attacking the myelin found in nerve cells, the insulation that allows the cells to transmit signals from the central nervous system down to the other parts of the body and vice versa. As the myelin begins to erode, it affects how the nerve cells send out the electric signals, which in turn results in symptoms associated with the disease. Currently, there is no cure yet for MS. But researchers are trying to find ways in order to treat the disease more effectively. Recent studies indicate that stem cell replacement may be an effective way to treat severe MS, even better than current available therapies.

According to the results of the study trial by researchers from the University of Genoa in Italy, stem cell transplants prove to be more effective in treating people with severe multiple sclerosis compared to standard medicine used to treat the said disease. In this 21-person study, participants who received stem cells harvested from their bone marrow experienced a substantial reduction in disease activity compared to patients who were given mitoxantrone, a generic anti-cancer drug that is also used to treat MS. It works by suppressing the immune system.

Participants with MS in the said study needed a crutch or cane in order to walk. All of them received treatment to suppress the immune system activity associated with MS. While 12 of the participants were given mitoxantrone, nine had stem cells harvested from their bone marrow reintroduced through a vein. Over a certain period, the stem cells migrated to the bone marrow and produced new cells that became immune cells.

The researchers followed the participants for as long as four years. Those who received the stem cell transplants showed 80 percent fewer new areas of lesions in their brains as compared to the participants who took mitoxantrone. According to Giovanni Mancardi from the University of Genoa, the lead author of the said study, “With these results, we can speculate that stem-cell treatment may profoundly affect the course of the disease. This process appears to reset the immune system.”

The findings of the said study offer new hope to MS sufferers whose disease does not respond effectively to current conventional MS treatments. The results of the said study were published in Neurology, the journal by the American Academy of Neurology.

Source: Bloomberg

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