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How effective is stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis?

Since 2005, we have been developing comprehensive protocols regarding Stem Cell Therapy for MS to overcome the limitations of conventional therapies. In our protocols, stem cells are combined with specialized therapies for MS that not only focus on helping people with MS to cope with their symptoms, but also treat the direct cause of the symptoms by promoting the healing of the original brain injury. We believe that our comprehensive stem cell treatment for Multiple Sclerosis gives our patients the best chances of improvements, allowing for a better quality of life.

What is Multiple Sclerosis and how does it affect the patient?

Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune and progressive neurological condition that primarily affect specific structures located in the brain and spinal cord, called myelin sheaths. These tubular structures that are wrapped around the neurons’ axons are responsible for the proper conduction of electrical impulses between the neuron’s soma and its axon terminal. In short, myelin sheaths allow for information to properly travel within the neuron.

Multiple Sclerosis affects about 2.3 million individuals worldwide and women are affected twice as frequently as men. Etiology of multiple sclerosis is still unknown; it is generally thought that the disease will develop in genetically susceptible individuals as a result of an autoimmune response directed against components of myelin. Environmental factors such as viruses, bacteria, chemicals and lack of sun exposure along with specific genetic predisposition have been hypothesized to cause immune dysfunction.

What happens if the disease remains untreated?

Multiple sclerosis affects principally young adults and leads to severe physical and cognitive impairment. MS follows a relapsing-remitting (RR) course in 85% and a primary progressive (PP) course in 15% of patients. Most patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, see their MS evolve in the secondary progressive type after a median interval of 19 years, with persisting relapses in 40% of cases. The degenerative nature of the disease causes patients to lose the ability to walk independently at a median age of 63 years, while 1–3% of patients reach that same level of disability only in a few weeks or months. Patients affected by multiple sclerosis also suffer from visual impairment (loss of vision, double vision), loss of sensation, speech and swallowing issues, problems with bowel, bladder and sexual function, extreme fatigue, dizziness, pain in some part of the body and more.

What are the current treatments and what are their efficacy?

Multiple Sclerosis is currently incurable. The exact cause of the disease is not known so far, and genetic factors culminating in autoimmune attack within the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) is generally the accepted theory. However such environmental factors remain obscure. Immune treatments are therefore routinely used, and these can reduce individual relapses both in severity (steroids, given in acute phase) and in frequency (interferons, glatiramer, and more recently various monoclonal antibodies, taken regularly). However, immune treatments have no impact on patients with progressive disability and deficits continue to accumulate relentlessly.

Can stem cells help treat multiple sclerosis?

Medications exist that can try to slow the process or help manage symptoms by blocking immune responses, but nothing specifically targets the strange autoimmune reaction to the myelin sheath. While these medications are helpful and provide relief and time for people struggling with MS, it is unable to fix the damaged neurons or reverse the condition. Stem cell therapy for MS is a new form of regenerative medicine that has the potential to slow and in some ways reverse the progression.

We use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which help the body regulate the immune system and may be able to help the body stop the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath. Mesenchymal stem cells may also potentially help with myelination (the regeneration of the myelin sheath) in the neurons. Many studies are currently being done on the efficacy of MSCs for MS, including at the University of Cambridge. Through treatment with umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UCMSCs) we have witnessed many of our patients see and experience improvements. As more studies are released, we look forward to seeing many more MS patients improve.

How stem cells can help relieve the symptoms?

Some published papers showed that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are potentially good for MS due to the following probable mechanisms:

  1. MSCs exert their immunomodulatory functions on numerous immune cells including T-cells, B-cells, NK cells and dendritic cells (DCs). MSCs on one side are inducing peripheral T-cell tolerance to myelin proteins thus reducing migration of pathogenic T-cells to the central nervous system (CNS) and on the other side, are homing to the CNS where they preserve axons and reduce demyelination.
  2. MSCs can protect axons and improve neuronal survival, possibly via anti-apoptotic effects, antioxidant effects, or by releasing trophic factors.
  3. MSCs can induce endogenous neurogenesis and oligodendrogenesis.
  4. MSCs can decrease production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokine.
  5. MSCs also appear to reduce glial scar formation representing a major barrier to spontaneous repair.

What potential improvements from umbilical cord stem cell therapy for MS?

The purpose of stem cell therapy for MS is to promote the healing of the brain injury in order to restore neurological function. Thus, various kinds of improvement are possible after our treatment and our past patients have experienced the following:

  • Improved motor function
  • Improved sensitivity
  • Better balance
  • Decreased spasticity
  • Enhanced vision
  • Decreased neuropathic pain
  • Reduced Fatigue
  • Lowered tremor occurrence
  • Improved bladder & bowel function

*It is important to remember that as for any medical treatment, improvements cannot be guaranteed. Please contact us for more information regarding the possible improvements for a particular case.