Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the immune system that affects the central nervous system, or brain and spinal cord. A form of auto-immune disease, the disease damages the nerves and may affect separate or multiple parts of the body, causing pain and severe limitation to movement, ability, and quality of life.
The disease causes damage and destruction to the protective covering (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve cells. Damage to the myelin sheath severely slows or interrupts nerve impulses, causing intense pain and inability to control movement. Individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis experience episodes of inflammation that cause the body's immune cells to attack the nervous system.
Stem cell research and technology has searched for ways to minimize symptoms, flair-ups, and damage caused to the nerves by multiple sclerosis in countries around the world.
Stem Cell Technologies and Multiple Sclerosis
In recent months, treating a patient who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis with their own immune system stem cells has shown promise in some clinical trials where severe nerve cell damage has not yet occurred.
Clinical trials developed at the Northwestern University Feinberg School Of Medicine in Chicago removed patient's stem cells in bone marrow, injected chemicals to destroy damaged immune cells and then re-injected the stem cells into the patient's bodies. Three years later, none of the 23 individuals who engaged in the clinical trials experienced further deterioration, while 17 of them showed some improvement.
In further studies, adult stem cells that have been taken from a patient's fatty tissues have shown promise in reducing clinical manifestation of the disease process. Clinical trials using mesenchymal stem cells showed improvement, according to the Journal Of Translational Medicine, describing studies performed at the University of California San Diego. Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to reduce or stop immune activation of cells and target specific areas where tissue damage had occurred.
Use of stem cell technologies to treat multiple sclerosis is designed to literally "reset" immune system function and is focusing on reversing or slowing early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Recently, an international symposium (Stem Cell Transplantation in Multiple Sclerosis: Sharing The Experience) was conducted in Moscow, Russia to discuss perspectives in new methods of treating multiple sclerosis through autologous hematopoietic (bone marrow stem cells that may 'morph' or develop into a variety of stem cell types)stem cell transplantation combined with high dose immunosuppressive therapies.
The Future of Treatment
In recent months, Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, Inc., has developed a therapeutic approach for potential treatment of multiple muscular conditions including Parkinson's disease, ALS and multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis treatments are currently being conducted on mouse models, with results published in the Journal Of Molecular Neuroscience.
Benefits of such treatment offer individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, especially those diagnosed early, with renewed neural and muscular function, reduced symptoms and enhanced quality of life. News articles abound with stories of various stages of recovery of those who have undergone stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis, some who have even recovered the ability to walk.
From Australia to Europe, individuals undergoing clinical trials of stem cell therapy have been showing a 60 to 80% chance of slowing the disease process, while some may enjoy the benefits of reversing the disease in its entirety. While there is no cure as yet for multiple sclerosis, stem cell treatments that focus on repair and regeneration of the central nervous system offer hope to individuals suffering from neural damage around the globe.
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