Stem Cells Restore Function of Regulatory T Cells from Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Stem Cells Restore Function of Regulatory T Cells from Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Scientists have long realized that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease and that the immune system, in a manner, attacks the brain and spinal cord. These inflammatory lesions cause patients to have severe neurological symptoms. Therefore, treatments for multiple sclerosis have focused on controlling the immune system.

The current treatments for Multiple Sclerosis can help minimize the severity of the disease, but they may cause serious side effects. Consequently, researchers are constantly looker for newer, safer, less expensive alternatives.

While the precise cause of MS is still unknown, multiple sclerosis lesions contain high levels of an immune cell, specifically CD4+ T cells. These T cells become active in the central nervous system and interfere with the function of other T cells (regulatory T cells). Simply put, whatever causes MS creates abnormal regulatory T cells; healthy regulatory T cells are important for maintaining a balance between helpful and harmful immune system functions.

In the scientific research journal Oncotarget, Yang and co-authors showed experimentally for the first time that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells could repair defective regulatory T cells in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

The scientists collected mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord tissue (the tissue that is usually thrown away as medical waste after live birth). They also collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (i.e. T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, and monocytes) from patients with MS and healthy volunteers. Stem cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells were combined in the lab for 3 days. After incubation, samples with stem cells had a higher proportion of regulatory T cells, and those regulatory T cells had greatly improved their function. In fact, stem cell treatment made the defective regulatory T cells function much like regulatory T cells from healthy volunteers.

Continued studies are needed, but the proof of concept has shown positive results and to be safe in many clinical trials. Thus, if umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to improve regulatory T cell function in patients with MS, there is hope for an alternative option for those seeking to manage symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis.

Reference: Yang, H., et al. (2016). Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells reversed the suppressive deficiency of T regulatory cells from peripheral blood of patients with multiple sclerosis in a co-culture – a preliminary study. Oncotarget. 2016; 7:72537-72545.

Stem Cells Restore Function of Regulatory T Cells from Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Stem Cells Restore Function of Regulatory T Cells from Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Scientists have long realized that multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease, and that the immune system, in a manner, attacks the brain and spinal cord. These inflammatory lesions cause patients to have severe neurological symptoms. Therefore, treatments for multiple sclerosis have focused on controlling the immune system.

There are current treatments of care for MS patients to manage their symptoms. They can help minimize the severity of the disease, but they may cause serious side effects. Consequently, researchers are constantly looker for newer, safer, less expensive alternatives.

While the precise cause of MS is still unknown, multiple sclerosis lesions contain high levels of an immune cell, specifically CD4+ T cells. These T cells become active in the central nervous system and interfere with the function of other T cells (regulatory T cells). Simply put, whatever causes MS creates abnormal regulatory T cells; healthy regulatory T cells are important for maintaining a balance between helpful and harmful immune system functions.

In the scientific research journal Oncotarget, Yang and co-authors showed experimentally for the first time that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells could repair defective regulatory T cells in patients with MS.

The scientists collected mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord tissue (the tissue that is usually thrown away as medical waste after live birth). They also collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (i.e. T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, and monocytes) from patients with MS and healthy volunteers. Stem cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells were combined in the lab for 3 days. After incubation, samples with stem cells had a higher proportion of regulatory T cells, and those regulatory T cells had greatly improved their function. In fact, stem cell treatment made the defective regulatory T cells function much like regulatory T cells from healthy volunteers.

More work must be done to take this technology from the lab and into the clinic, but the proof of concept is remarkable. Stem cell treatment has been shown to be safe in scores of clinical trials. Thus, if umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells can improve regulatory T cell function in patients with MS, the impact could be beneficial to help improve multiple sclerosis symptoms.

Reference: Yang, H., et al. (2016). Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells reversed the suppressive deficiency of T regulatory cells from peripheral blood of patients with multiple sclerosis in a co-culture – a preliminary study. Oncotarget 2016; 7:72537-72545.

Stem Cell Therapy More Effective Than Disease-Modifying Therapy for Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Stem Cell Therapy More Effective Than Disease-Modifying Therapy for Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

The most common form of multiple sclerosis is a relapsing-remitting MS. In relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, patients have relatively quiet, healthy times interrupted by disease flares. MS flares can cause many different neurological symptoms. The disease can interfere with any number of bodily processes, from walking to seeing, to urinating.

For many years, the only treatments available for relapsing-remitting MS were steroids or other powerful medications that had troubling side effects. Recently, disease-modifying drugs have become available that extend the times in between flares. Steroids are still used to treat disease flares, but disease-modifying drugs seem to make those flares occur less often.

One way that scientists judge the value of disease-modifying therapy for relapsing-remitting MS is to see how long it can prevent relapse. For example, researchers divide a group of patients into two groups, give each group a different treatment, and track to see the time until a relapse occurs.

Researchers took this same scientific approach to compare disease-modifying therapy to nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation which is the infusion of stem cells without destroying the patient’s existing bone marrow and stem cells with chemotherapy. The results were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The scientists from hospitals and institutions around the world followed about 100 women with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Half received disease-modifying therapy, which is the current standard of care, while the other half received stem cell therapy.

During the first year of the study, the symptoms were more severe in patients who received disease-modifying therapy. This was expected since patients with this form of MS tend to get worse over time. Impressively, the group who received stem cell treatment had less severe symptoms than when they started a year earlier.

Three patients who received stem cell therapy experienced disease progression; however, a staggering 34 patients in the disease-modifying group had disease progression. In other words, far fewer RRMS patients in the stem cell therapy group had disease progression than those receiving standard disease-modifying treatments.

The authors of this groundbreaking study mention that “further research is needed to replicate these findings,” presumably in a double-blind trial. Nevertheless, this is not a small study (~100 patients) and patients were followed for a very long time (5 years). As such, the results provide strong, preliminary evidence that stem cell therapy was more effective than disease-modifying therapy for patients with

Reference: Burt, R., et al. (2019). Effect of Nonmyeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation vs Continued Disease-Modifying Therapy on Disease Progression in Patients With Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. JAMA. 2019;321(2):165-174.

Using Stem Cells to Treat Nerve Damage in Multiple Sclerosis

Using Stem Cells to Treat Nerve Damage in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the brain and spinal cord.  The immune system mistakenly attacks the covering of nerve axons called the myelin sheath. Just as an electrical cord that has lost its insulation cannot work properly, so too is it with nerve cells that have been destroyed by MS. Unfortunately, when electrical signals (action potentials) cannot move through axons, it causes neurological problems and disability. People with MS may lose the sense of touch, the sense of sight, the ability to move or walk, and the ability to control bowel or bladder function.

While treatments for MS are intended to reduce inflammation, no treatment has been developed that can repair damaged nerve cells. Scientists recently reviewed the status of stem cell clinical trials to treat multiple sclerosis. The results are encouraging.

No fewer than 8 clinical trials have shown that mesenchymal stem cells can be safely used in patients with MS. Moreover, the phase 2 clinical trials within this group showed that various stem cell treatments reduced the severity of MS. This is especially important because mesenchymal stem cells actually reduced the number of lesions (areas of inflammation and injury) in patients with MS compared to placebo.

Importantly the review determined stem cells were able to improve MS disease and nerve destruction regardless of whether the stem cells were collected from fat tissue, umbilical cord, or bone marrow. Stem cells retrieved from fat (i.e. adipose) reduced MS relapses and delayed the progression of the disease. Likewise, fat-derived stem cells improved sexual satisfaction and improved bowel control 12 months after treatment.

Why are the results of fat-derived stem cells so exciting? Because bone marrow can be difficult to access and umbilical cord tissue must be collected from donors. On the other hand, virtually everyone has excess fat on their bodies. This fat can be safely and easily removed with a simple extraction such as liposuction. A patient’s own fat cells can be removed, processed, and re-infused as stem cell treatment. When someone uses their own stem cells, there is no risk that the body will reject the infusion (as could theoretically happen to donor stem cells).

These results are exciting and welcome information for those who suffer from multiple sclerosis. As larger clinical trials are performed and previous results are replicated, we may see an increase in stem cell treatment options to help manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Reference: Bejargafshe, M., et al. (2019). Safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for treatment of neural damage in patients with multiple sclerosis. Stem Cell Investigation. 2019; 6:44.

New Study Focuses on MS Symptoms Through Stem Cell Transplantation

New Study Focuses on MS Symptoms Through Stem Cell Transplantation

Multiple sclerosis (MS) poses distinct challenges for many individuals. Not only does it present an array of frustrating symptoms ranging from muscle weakness and numbness to vision and bladder problems, but in some patients, it may resist medications altogether. For patients in search for an alternative option for relapse-remitting MS, researchers at Duke University School of Medicine are exploring a new potential therapy in a clinical trial: stem cell transplantation.

The trial, which is highly selective and randomized, will test the efficacy of stem cell transplantation of bone marrow against several different immune reconstitution therapies. Participants will include patients for whom disease-modifying therapies have been ineffective in the past.

While the study’s investigators acknowledge the risks that come with immunosuppression, they are also optimistic in the treatment’s ability to manage some of the most progressive forms of MS, calling stem cell transplantation “one of the most promising therapies” for the condition. By reconstituting the immune system through suppression and then introducing stem cells, the objective is to combat the inflammatory flares that occur in the brain and spinal cord every 12 to 15 months in this form of MS.

Immune reconstitution has already shown promise in the past, and people with MS who have undergone the treatment have witnessed the absence of new symptoms several years after pursuing the therapy. Compared to existing therapies, many of which have been around since the early 1990s, the treatment could hold enormous potential under the right circumstances. The trial’s team is working diligently to mitigate potential risks and thoroughly examine any individual risk factors with prospective participants. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!

Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis and Neural Damage

Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis and Neural Damage

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that’s increasing in prevalence over the past few decades. According to the National MS Society, more than one million people live with multiple sclerosis in the United States alone. Globally speaking, MS is diagnosed in around 2.3 million patients, with hundreds of new cases every week. Interestingly, people who live in the Northern or Southern extremes of the planet are at a higher risk to develop MS than their counterparts.

Unfortunately, MS is a chronic, progressive condition with no curative treatment.

Multiple Sclerosis and its Impact on Brain Cells

The pathophysiology of MS is quite complex and involves the auto-destruction of the central nervous system (CNS) tissue by antibodies and immune cells. The main target of the immune reaction is the myelin sheaths found on neurons to facilitate electrical conduction. Unfortunately, those myelin sheaths also provide protection for neurons to maintain their optimal function.

Additionally, the inflammation mediated by the immune system damages the integrity of neurons, leading to the loss of millions of cells that play a crucial role in the function of the CNS. Another frustrating aspect of this malady is the recurrent relapses, where patients experience vision problems, muscular weakness, reduction in mobility, and balance issues even with adequate pharmacological therapy.

Today, there is one treatment option that is considered an alternative option to one’s journey to wellness and improvement of symptoms –  stem cell therapy.

Stem cell therapy and Neural Damage

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have incredible regenerative and repairing properties due to their multipotent characteristic that allows them to differentiate into different body tissues. MSCs can be obtained from adipose tissue, bone marrow, umbilical cord (Wharton’s Jelly), and placenta.

For many years, researchers conducted studies to see if MSCs benefit patients with multiple sclerosis, and many results showed positive benefits.

For instance, in a 2019 study published by Stem Cell Investigation, researchers stated that “Upon intravenous injection, MSCs are able to traffic into the brain lesions and improve the survival rate of brain cells.” Although scientists are still researching the underlying mechanism that led to these results, the positive effects of MSCs are attributed to their regenerative, self-renewal, and immunomodulating properties.

One of the most appealing type of stem cell therapy is the umbilical cord-extracted MSCs because of the site’s accessibility, their potentcy, and the absence of any ethical issues. Overall, the scientific community believes that MSCs have great potential in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Stem cell therapy research has increased over the past few years and is making impacts in the history of medicine and biology. The regenerative properties of these cells has opened a new chapter in the management of conditions and their symptoms that can impact a person’s day to day life. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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