Stem Cell Therapy for MS Shows Promise

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Most medical advances usually carry with them a host of controversy and debate over their ethical and health implications.  One of the most controversial medical interventions in recent history is stem cell therapy.  How the cells are harvested and whether it can lead to problems with getting cells from an unborn child are just some of the concerns surrounding the therapy.  Despite these problems, it is hard to argue about the fact that stem cells produce some amazing results.  One recent advancement in this area is the role of stem cells in multiple sclerosis.

Bristol University recently conducted a clinical trial in which patients living with multiple sclerosis were injected with stem cells from their own bone marrow.  The researchers wanted to determine whether the procedure was safe and what, if any, side effects occurred.  As a secondary research goal, the team wanted to examine what role the stem cells played in the disease progression.  At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that no severe side effects existed and that the procedure appeared relatively safe.  Furthermore, in five of the six patients the disease remained stable over the course of the study and injections.  What is even more exciting is that none of the patients receiving the bone marrow had their condition deteriorate over a twelve month period.

One of the researchers reported that the team thought that the disease would continue its deteriorating spiral.  With these results, they were expectedly excited and noted that the treatment was relatively painless and did not require an overnight hospital stay.  The researchers also believe that the bone marrow cells have some protective properties, including neuroprotection and immune modulation, according to BioNews.  Although this clinical trial was preliminary and much more, broader scope studies will be needed, the researchers are encouraged by these results.  Many of the volunteers were excited about the results and commented on how painless the procedure was.

Using a patient’s own bone marrow cells carry many advantages aside from possibly curing or reducing the impact of multiple sclerosis.  Because they come directly from the patient, there are really no ethical problems and the rejection rate of the cells is much lower.  The stem cells may play a radically changing role in the way chronic conditions are handled.  If these cells can be harvested from a person’s own body for treatment of a disease in another part of the body, it will be a miraculous coup.

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