Stem Cell Treatment for “Aggressive” Multiple Sclerosis
A group of 35 multiple sclerosis (aggressive form) patients were injected with stem cells about 11 years ago in Greece. Now, it has been observed that the disease did not progress in almost 25% of them.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune (immune system attacks body’s own cells) disease that affects the patient’s brain and spinal cord. In this disease, the nerve cells are destroyed due to the inflammation caused by immune system attacks on the nervous system. Due to improper signal transmission to different parts of the body, patients suffer from several problems related to speech, vision, movement etc.
The current study is based on the strategy that, replacing the entire bone marrow using chemotherapy, with new, healthy stem cells might stop the immune system attacks on nerve cells in the case of aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.
The results obtained so far indicate that 10% of patients within the group, who did not have inflammation when they entered the group, were able to remain disease free.
Among those with lesions as was seen in their MRI scans, which is an indication of the inflammatory phase, 44% have not progressed to further stages.
Two of the patients suffered death due to transplantation related complications.
Assessing these outcomes, researchers are of opinion that this treatment is suitable for aggressive form of MS i.e., the patients who are in the inflammatory stage of the disease.
Although these results seem to be promising, considering the fact that the patients were under observation for 11 years, it is a difficult task for the scientists to decide if the improvement has occurred naturally or due to stem cell therapy. This is because MS patients go through phases where the disease can be dormant for a long period and can become active later.
Nonetheless, the study has helped the researchers to determine which patients respond and in what way to stem cells.