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Could stem cells be key in fighting MS?

Could stem cells be key in fighting MS?
22nd May 2014

A new study on mice has suggested that using human stem cells could be instrumental in trying to fight multiple sclerosis (MS).

Scientists from the University of Utah used the rodents in an experiment and genetically engineered them so they had a version of MS. 

Having been debilitated by the condition for two weeks, the mice started to walk again - following the injection of stem cells.

In addition, the creatures did not show any sign of relapsing six months after this method of treatment. 

It is hoped this breakthrough will pave the way for new research methods on humans that could help to find a cure for the neurological condition. 

These findings were especially welcomed as the scientists were not hopeful that the cells would have a positive effect on the rodents.

Professor Tom Lane, who led the research team, said: "My postdoctoral fellow Dr Lu Chen came to me and said: 'The mice are walking!' I didn’t believe her."

He added that the intention now was to try to move "as quickly and carefully" as possible. 

"I would love to see something that could promote repair and ease the burden that patients with MS have," he remarked. 

Dr Jeanne Loring - co-senior author and director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California - said: "This result opens up a whole new area of research for us to figure out why it worked."

MS is a debilitating condition that has a vast range of symptoms, such as difficulty walking, fatigue, pain and worsened vision. Currently there is no definitive cure for the disease that is thought to affect 2.3 million people across the globe. 

The full findings of this research can be viewed in the journal Stem Cell Reports. 

Read about Barchester expertise in offering multiple sclerosis support.