13 Dec Stem Cell Therapy Showing Great Promise for Managing Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition where the immune system of the body creates antibodies that attack and damage the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers. This causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
Signs and symptoms of MS may differ amongst affected individuals and may include:
- Weakness or numbness in one or more limbs usually affecting one side of the body, or the trunk and the legs.
- Pain or a tingling sensation in areas of the body.
- Having a sensation of electrical shocks when moving the neck in a certain position, especially when bending the neck forward.
- Partial or complete visual loss in one eye.
- Pain during eye movement.
- Prolonged double vision.
- Unsteady gait or lack of coordination.
- Slurred speech.
- Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction.
There is no cure for MS, but there are medications that help to control the signs and symptoms caused by the disease. Also, depending on the type of MS the patient has, other forms of therapies have been proven to be somewhat effective in modifying the progression of the condition.
Stem cell therapy has been shown to offer improvement in MS signs and symptoms experienced by affected individuals. Although MS stem cell treatment cost may be high, the improvement which has been clinically evaluated makes this a secondary issue.
Stem cell therapy management
Stem cells that are derived from adipose (fat) tissue, which involves a minimally invasive and relatively painless procedure, are implanted around the spinal cord of patients with MS.
The reason why stem cells are extracted from fat tissue is that:
- There is a greater yield of these cells than from blood or bone marrow.
- The stem cells are taken from the affected patient themselves which reduces the chances of a reaction against the cells or the occurrence of an adverse immune response.
A literature review was performed to evaluate the effect of these stem cells in experimental studies performed on patients with MS. The participants of these studies were patients who didn’t respond to at least one year of approved therapies, who had important disabilities, and who were followed up for up to 28 months after receiving stem cell therapy.1
The following findings were made:
- Stem cells differentiated (changed) into new and healthy nerve cells and this improved the mobility of the affected patient.
- The stem cells also triggered certain precursors in the body to target and reduce inflammatory processes, such as those caused by the antibodies attacking the myelin sheaths of the nerve cells.
- Clinical improvement was even demonstrated in the most severe form of MS where patients experienced progressively worsening neurological problems before the therapy.
- All the trials reported safety and tolerability of the implanted and transfused stem cells.
- Since a small number of participants were used, this was brought up as a possible limitation of the studies. Therefore, researchers admitted that further clinical research was warranted but that shouldn’t take anything away from the positive findings that were made.