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Human stem cells could be key to MS treatment

Human stem cells could be key to MS treatment
9th June 2014

In a scientific study on mice, human stem cells were found to successfully treat multiple sclerosis (MS), leading to the idea that this method could help to bring about improved treatment methods for the condition. 

Researchers from ImStem Biotechnology in Farmington, Connecticut injected stem cells that were derived from human embryos into mice. They also implanted cells that were from adult bone marrow, which are currently being used in a bid to tackle the neurological condition. 

Mice who were not treated with this form of stem cell treatment experienced no recovery and were still crippled by the disease. 

The embryonic stem cells were found to be much more effective than the bone marrow ones, to the researchers' surprise. The former type of stem cell proved to put an end to the damage caused by MS and also helped to heal the nerve function. 

Chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology - a Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm who collaborated in the study - Dr Robert Lanza was quoted by the Independent as saying: "Although there is currently no cure for MS, we are excited about the unique anti-disease abilities of these cells and feel that they may be well suited for the clinical treatment of MS."

Dr Lanza added that these stems cells were able to prevent the breakdown of the nervous system's ability to communicate, which could lead to a plethora of symptoms, such as blurred vision, loss of balance, extreme fatigue and paralysis. 

It is now hoped this breakthrough will lead to clinical trials on patients, in an attempt to create a cure for this debilitating condition, as there is not currently one in existence. 

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

Approximately 100,000 people in the UK have MS. The majority of individuals are diagnosed when aged between 20 and 40, and it is thought women are up to three times more likely to develop it, in comparison to their male counterparts. 

Read about Barchester expertise in offering multiple sclerosis support.