Adult Stem Cell Treatment Reverses Multiple Sclerosis in Trial
Posted on April 21, 2016
The U.K. press is reporting promising results for the use of adult stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). “Remarkable” and “miraculous” are descriptive terms used from some of the doctors who treated these patients, made detailed examinations of their progress, and scientifically validated the observations. The results are part of an FDA-approved, ongoing clinical trial, with collaborations between researchers in the U.S., U.K., Sweden and Brazil. The phase 3 trial started in 2006 originally, and has been adding patients and observing results since then.
The procedure was developed by Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and is a variation of some standard cancer treatments. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, where some of the body’s immune cells have gone rogue and begun to attack the body’s own nervous tissue. This leads to the neurological symptoms seen with MS. Subjects’ adult stem cells were collected from bone marrow or blood, and then they received chemotherapy in order to kill the rogue immune cells. The subject’s adult stem cells were then reinfused into their body and made their home in the bone marrow, subsequently producing fresh immune cells. The process acts as a “rebooting” of the immune system.
In early 2015, the international group reported some of their own initial results with relapsing-remitting MS subjects that were unexpected. Not only did the adult stem cell reboot stop disease progression, but it actually reversed the neurological disability for many subjects. As their peer-reviewed publication in JAMA noted, no FDA-approved therapy has reversed MS symptoms or improved quality of life for these patients. However, the adult stem cell treatment which they administered improved their neurological condition, in some instances putting them into remission from the MS. Dr. Burt noted that this is the only therapy to date that has shown to reverse neurologic deficits in relapsing-remitting MS.
A separate research team is testing the use of adult stem cells for progressive MS. This team, led by Dr. Neil J. Scolding at the University of Bristol, had previously published promising results from a preliminary safety trial in the use of a subject’s own bone marrow adult stem cells for MS. In 2015, they published the design of an extended clinical trial with the potential to treat progressive MS. The FDA-approved phase 2 trial, which is different from the relapsing-remitting trial in that no chemotherapy conditioning is used, is currently recruiting patients.
In the most recent update of the trial for relapsing-remitting MS, Steven Storey, a marathon runner who became wheelchair-bound and was virtually paralyzed, spoke about how after four months of the treatment he could stand, and within ten months he completed a mile-long swim and could once again walk. Another patient, Holly Drewry, had also become wheelchair-bound from her MS. She began to notice changes in her strength just days after her treatment, and she soon walked out of the hospital.