Stem Cell for MS or Multiple Sclerosis: Does it Work? Can stem cells be used to treat multiple sclerosis? We’re not there yet but researchers like Dr. Tom Lane, an immunologist at the University of Utah, are coming up with results which suggest that a stem cell treatment for MS is not too far away.
Although the results so far are very promising, you should not throw caution to the wind paying thousands of dollars to a “medical entrepreneur” who uses legitimate research like this to claim that s/he can cure MS with stem cells. There are tons of shady people out there making such claims.
As mentioned, when it comes to stem cell for MS or multiple sclerosis, we are not there yet. In fact, clinical trials on humans are yet to be conducted although Dr. Lane is cautiously optimistic that such trials can be done in the next two to three years. By then, we hope to get a clearer picture on the effectiveness of the treatment to people with MS.
Let’s learn more about Dr. Lane’s study in his interview with the Ivanhoe Broadcast News in October 2014:
Tell me what this study has found that’s amazing.
Dr. Lane: We’ve employed this mouse model of the human demyelinating disease multiple sclerosis which is a chronic disease that affects generally young people in the second or third decade of life and it’s a lifelong disease. MS is characterized by a misguided attack of the immune system to proteins in the central nervous system and the result is chronic disability in these patients and more importantly loss of the myelin sheath or demyelination.
We’ve examined the therapeutic potential of neural stem cells by transplanting these cells into animals that mimic the human demyelinating disease MS and have found that we see a remarkable recovery in motor skills of the animals that last up to six months post-transplant.
When you say remarkable recovery, explain to me what that is.
Dr. Lane: We have animals that are paralyzed and once we engraft the neural stem cells into the spinal cords within three weeks the majority of the animals, about eighty to eighty-five-percent will have regained the ability to walk. This gradually improves over time. We were really surprised by these results, happily surprised.
Tell me what happened when one of your students told you that this was happening.
Dr. Lane: When my postdoctoral fellow Lu Chen came in and said, Tom the mice are walking, I said I don’t believe you. We had to go down to look at the mice. Of course everything is blinded and she didn’t know what animals had been transplanted with what and I didn’t know either and it was very clear that several of the cages had animals that were clearly moving around very easily whereas another group of animals not so much.
When we un-blinded the study it was the animals that were moving that received the neural stem cells and the control animals had not.
It’s also interesting what you were showing me in there that graphic where you had put the stem cells in, in the end they were gone, what happened to them?
Dr. Lane: Well I think what happened is that they were rejected by the mouse’s immune response something we anticipated would happen. The thing that we’re most surprised about is that not only did the animals recover, but they exhibited sustained recovery.
More about the Dr. Lane interview on stem cell for MS after the jump.
Continuation of the interview on stem cell for MS with Dr. Lane.
The fact that the human neural stem cells were essentially rejected by the mouse’s immune response argues that something’s being secreted by those cells that in the CNS microenvironment allows for long term recovery. Our job now is to identify what factor or factors are being released by these cells that create this nursing environment for recovery to occur.
For someone who has MS it was like magic.
Dr. Lane: It could be but we’re always cautiously optimistic. Our goal is to move this in a safe and careful manner, we understand that this disease affects so many people but we want to make sure that we know what’s happening. Our long-term goal would be a clinical trial at some point down the road and this is one of the reasons why I love being at Utah. The clinical work here in MS is outstanding. We really hope to get something off and running.
Of course anybody who’s watching is going to say when?
Dr. Lane: I can’t put a timeline on it, I wish I could but I can’t. I would hopefully say two to three years.
Two to three years for human trials?
Dr. Lane: Cautiously yes, say that.
Do you have any inkling as to what it is that’s working or how it’s working?
Dr. Lane: We’ve defined part of what is happening in our recent research report that was published. One thing that’s occurring is that following engraftment of neural stem cells into the CNS, we see the emergence of regulatory T cells.
These cells are very important in dampening neural inflammation which is driving the disease. Now the other component is to determine what is promoting re-myelination – that is what is activating other cell types within the central nervous system to synthesize and secrete myelin that wraps around the nerve fibers. We’re not sure how that’s happening so we’re focusing our efforts on this at the moment.
What you’re saying is that these neural cells are coming in and basically undoing damage that was done by the disease?
Dr. Lane: That’s right. They’re initiating repair and then they leave. This is very important with regards to stem cells because one of the concerns in the field is if you transplant cells, what happens to them over a period of time: are they going to be safe or could they potentially turn into something more dangerous such as a tumor. In our scenario this may not be a problem as the cells are rejected but the recovery is long-lasting.
More Stem Cell for MS Stories:
Stem Cell for Multiple Sclerosis – Canada Trials
Stem Cell Treatment for MS: Dr. Tom Lane Study on Mice published on 10 April 2015. Last updated: May 3, 2017 at 11:55 am