Testing stem cell therapy for MS

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic and often disabling disease where the body’s immune system attacks and damages nerve cells. There is no cure, though several therapies are available to slow the disease’s progress. Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Case Western have teamed up on a clinical trial that will test out a new type of therapy for MS.

GERSON: Many of the therapies that are effective for multiple sclerosis involve a sledgehammer approach to wiping out the immune system, which is good because that’s the problem but it’s bad because it can lead to further complications because we all need an immune system.

That’s Dr. Stanton Gerson, director of the UH Seidman Cancer Center and director of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine. Gerson describes how this clinical trial will look at how a type of stem cell therapy might work well for patients with MS:

GERSON: This treatment with mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, appears not to exaggerate the shutoff of the immune system but bring it back to normal. So in some ways, theoretically, it might be much safer than the current therapies for multiple sclerosis.

The hope is that the treatment - using cells taken from the patient’s own bone marrow - will reduce inflammation and encourage the nerve cells to repair themselves.

The MS clinical trial is the first in North America to test this type of stem cell as a therapy for the disease, and researchers hope to share their initial findings over the next 1-2 years.

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