Stem cell research shows promise in treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis

Preliminary results suggest reversing symptoms may be possible

Categories: For Potential Participants, [Multiple Sclerosis, Anti-inflammatory, Gene therapy, MS research]

A stem cell transplant may be suitable for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in some patients, according to preliminary results from a new international clinical research trial. Stem cells are cells that are able to give rise to other types of cells with specialized roles (such as blood or nerve cells). Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is a type of multiple sclerosis in which attacks are followed by remission (a period of time without symptoms).

The clinical research trial studied stem cells as a possible treatment for RRMS, and the findings were presented recently at the European Society for Bone and Marrow Transplantation. The results of the clinical trial showed that people with RRMS may be able to “reboot” their immune system and reverse their systems by infusing blood-based stem cells.

In stem cell treatment, cancer medication is used to destroy a patient’s immune system. Then the cells from the patient’s blood and bone marrow are used to help rebuild their immune system. The investigators in the clinical trial checked to see if the transplanted cells helped to stop the immune system from attacking the brain.

The clinical trial included 100 patients with RRMS in England, the United States, Sweden, and Brazil. The trial compared treatment with stem cell transplants with conventional medication for RRMS. The patients received either stem cell transplants or medication.

The researchers found that after 1 year, only 1 of the 52 patients who received the stem cell treatment had a relapse. After 3 years, the transplant had failed in 3 patients (about 6%) in the stem cell transplant group. Those who received the stem cell transplant also had a reduction in their symptoms.

What’s next

These are only initial results and further research is needed. Patients in this clinical trial will be followed up until 2021.

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