Groundbreaking Stem Cell Therapy Trial Shows Early Promise for Treating Multiple Sclerosis

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Initial Results in Neural Stem Cell Trial

In a groundbreaking first-in-human clinical trial, scientists have reported promising early results in a neural stem cell therapy trial for progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The trial involved injecting stem cells directly into the brains of patients living with MS, with the goal of protecting the brain from further damage.

MS: A Chronic Condition Affecting the Nervous System

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system, comprising the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms can range widely, including fatigue, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and coordination and balance problems. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for MS.

Exciting Findings in the Initial Phase

The trial, led by researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Milano-Bicocca, involved 15 patients in its initial phase. Neural stem cells were injected directly into the patients’ brains, and the study spanned a year. Preliminary findings were published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Addressing the Immune System’s Role in MS

In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers, known as myelin, disrupting the normal flow of electrical impulses along the nerves. Macrophages, a type of white blood cell, play a crucial role in this process, causing persistent inflammation and harming nerve cells. Stem cell therapies have shown potential in mitigating this damage.

Safety and Promise of Stem Cell Transplant

Stem cells used in this trial were obtained from a single miscarried foetal donor. While some temporary or reversible side effects were noted, none of the patients, who had high disability levels at the trial’s start, experienced a worsening of symptoms. The larger the dose of injected stem cells, the smaller the reduction in brain volume over time, suggesting a potential dampening effect on inflammation.

Next Steps and Future Research

While acknowledging the study’s limitations, including its small size and potential confounding effects, the researchers emphasize the safety and promising effects observed over the 12-month trial period. This breakthrough opens the door to the next stage of clinical trials, paving the way for further research to establish the safety, efficacy, and broader applicability of this innovative stem cell therapy approach for treating MS. Stay tuned for updates as the research progresses.

SOURCE: Ref Image from New Atlas

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