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!
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.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the central nervous system, disrupting the ways in which information flows within and to and from the brain. Its cause is unknown, though experts believe it may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The trajectory and symptoms of the disease are often unpredictable. People with MS may experience symptoms related to movement, such as tremors or unsteady gait, as well as vision-related changes, slurred speech, tingling or numbness, and fatigue.
MS symptoms typically begin to emerge between the ages of 20 and 50. For some individuals, symptoms may improve or go into remission for periods of time. In some cases, MS symptoms can interfere with daily life, making it difficult to complete everyday activities.
While there are currently no cures available for MS, there are some medications available to aid in symptom management. Yet, these can be costly and may carry side effects.
Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
Recently, stem cell therapy for Multiple Sclerosis has emerged as a promising treatment with tremendous potential. It is not a cure but has shown potential for symptom improvements. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the ability to help control inflammation and restore the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers which is damaged in MS. These powerful cells also have the ability to regulate the immune system, which can aid in symptom reduction.
The reason the immune regulating effects of MSCs are so beneficial to people with MS is that they prevent the immune system from mistakenly attacking the myelin sheath. MSCs may even regenerate myelin sheath where it’s been damaged, known as remyelination.
While results may vary, MS patients who receive stem cell therapy may experience a number of benefits. Some reported include increased energy, strength, mobility, flexibility, and function control. The treatment is also noninvasive, well-tolerated in most patients, and does not require any downtime. With its lasting beneficial healing properties, stem cell therapy appears to be an alternative option, especially for patients whose symptoms interfere with daily life.
If these beneficial healing properties are something you would like to take advantage of then contact us today for a free consultation.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease that
affects the brain and spinal cord. In multiple sclerosis, an immune reaction
breaks down the covering around neuronal axons, myelin. Depending on where in
the brain or spinal cord this inflammation occurs, patients with multiple
sclerosis may experience weakness, a lack of sensation, double vision, difficulty
walking, difficulty with balance, problems with urination, dizziness, and/or
pain. Over time, patients with multiple sclerosis require assistive devices
such as canes or wheelchairs to get around, and some ultimately become
Multiple sclerosis can be divided into 4 types:
Clinically isolated syndrome – The first episode of MS; about two-thirds of people with a clinically isolated syndrome of MS will go on to have one of the other types listed below
Relapsing-remitting – Patients have symptoms for a
time, which resolve, but then eventually return
Secondary progressive – After some cycles of flare-ups
and remissions, the disease is present all the time; some patients with
relapsing-remitting disease develop secondary progressive MS
Primary progressive – Once symptoms start, they do
not resolve but instead get progressively worse
Fortunately, there are some treatments that can change the
course of multiple
sclerosis. There are several disease-modifying agents available for people
with relapsing-remitting disease and a few for progressive multiple sclerosis.
These drugs can reduce the rate at which symptoms get worse or extend the
length of time between flare-ups. Unfortunately, not everyone can tolerate
these drugs, and, in others, the drugs are not very effective. None of these
drugs is a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Researchers have turned to mesenchymal
stem cells as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis. These cells have
the ability to regulate the immune system and support the nervous system. There
have been so many clinical trials of stem cells in multiple sclerosis that
researchers can now perform a meta-analysis on them. A meta-analysis is a
special study in which all trials on a particular topic are combined and
analyzed, i.e., a study of studies.
In their recent meta-analysis, Dr. Zhou and co-authors identified 9 clinical studies using mesenchymal stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis. They found that the rate of disease progression with stem cell treatment was 16% at 6 months and 35% at 1 year. This is a faster rate of decline than disease-modifying treatment, but better than no treatment at all. Importantly, the MS patients treated with stem cells had much more severe disease than average—it was a group for whom disease-modifying treatment had failed. From this perspective, stem cell treatment for MS was a great success.
Most patients had no evidence of disease activity at 6
months (72%) and 1 year (62%) after autologous
mesenchymal stem cell treatment. This a substantial duration of time to be
The authors noted that stem cells transplanted via the intrathecal
route (i.e. directly in the cerebrospinal fluid) resulted in a slower
progression of disability.
Taken together, these results are encouraging. The authors also concluded that mesenchymal stem cell treatment was safe. More work with larger patient groups are needed, but this is an exciting avenue of research.
Reference: Zhou, Y., et al. (2019). Autologous Mesenchymal
Stem Cell Transplantation in Multiple Sclerosis: A Meta-Analysis. Stem Cells
International. 2019, Volume 2019 |Article ID 8536785.
While researchers have been puzzled over the precise contributing factors behind Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for many years, it is widely believed that risk factors are both genetic and environmental. Recently, more evidence has been uncovered which points to the role of environmental factors, and specifically, diet, in a person’s likelihood of developing the condition. A new study on the influence of diet has been published in The Journal of Nutrition and indicates a link between red meat consumption and a reduced risk of first clinical diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination (FCD), a precursor to MS.
MS Risk & Red Meat Consumption: A Noteworthy Association
Researchers used data from more than 280 individuals who had experienced FCD, and more than 550 control participants who hadn’t. The participants were ranked according to a points-based diet score which measured how many servings of red meat they consumed as part of a Mediterranean diet. The scores of the people who consumed three or more servings of unprocessed red meat were found to have a reduced risk of FCD, compared to those who consumed two or fewer.
Why Could Red Meat Help?
According to one of the lead study researchers, the nutrients found in red meat, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, protein, potassium, vitamin D, and selenium, are all known to contribute to brain functioning. One critical component to the potential benefits is choosing high-quality meats, however. The research shows sources such as grass-fed beef are linked to the reduced risk, and the study participants largely maintained good eating patterns, as they followed a Mediterranean diet. This approach to eating is known to boost cardiovascular health and prioritizes the intake of healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, among other key components.
Who Do These Findings Affect?
The study findings show that for individuals who had a first-degree relative with MS, the risk would drop from 2 to 4% down to 1 to 2.5%. The greatest benefit is seen among individuals who have an identical twin with MS: for this population, the risk drops from 30 to 50% down to 14 to 32%. The findings also suggest that the more unprocessed red meat the individual consumes, the greater the reduction of risk may be.
Ultimately, the benefits of eating red meat appear to be greatest for the populations with a close relative with MS. It’s worth noting, however, that authorities such as the World Health Organization have issued warnings against red meat, and suggest that it could be carcinogenic to humans. Dietary modifications such as these should, therefore, be discussed with a doctor before being introduced into an individual’s daily routine.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis(ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are two separate diseases with some important similarities. Both ALS and MS interfere with a person’s ability to move. In both diseases, nerve cells are affected. In fact, in both diseases, cells of the immune system seem to attack and destroy the material that wraps around nerve fibers. Without this covering, nerve cells do not function properly, which is why muscle weakness and other problems occur in both ALS and MS.
Traditional treatments for MS and ALS are different. More than 15 drugs are approved to treat MS. In many patients, one or more of these treatments can help reduce flareups and perhaps slow the progression of the disease (ocrelizumab in progressive MS). ALS, on the other hand, is a very progressive condition. Two drugs (riluzole and edaravone) modestly slow down the rate at which ALS gets worse. Neither MS nor ALS, it should be mentioned, can be cured.
Because of the similarities between these distinct diseases, researchers conducted a clinical trial of both MS and ALS patients. The doctors infused mesenchymal stem cells into patients and followed their progress. The goals of the study were to determine if stem cell infusion was safe and if it was effective.
In MS patients, stem cell infusion helped reduce physical disability (mean score on the Expanded Disability Status Scale improved) for at least six months. In ALS patients, mesenchymal stem cell infusion appeared to stabilize the disease for at least six months (average score on the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale stayed the same). Given that ALS patients tend to decline rapidly, maintaining stability is actually a great success.
Interestingly, researchers conducted an MRI the day after stem cell infusion and found the stem cells were already moving to various places around the brain and spinal cord. This finding suggests that stem cell infusion works very rapidly, and that stem cells target diseased regions within the body.
It should be noted that many patients had temporary symptoms related to the injection such as fever and headache. The symptoms went away within days, however. Importantly, no major adverse events occurred during two years of follow-up.
Taken together, this research suggests that mesenchymal stem cell transplantation is a safe and effective treatment for patients with MS and ALS. Moreover, this infusion causes virtually immediate effects in the central nervous system. While more research is needed, these results may offer hope to patients with these challenging neurological diseases.
Reference: Karussis, D. et al. (2010). Safety and immunological effects of mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in patients with multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Archives of Neurology. 2010 Oct;67(10):1187-94.