Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. The disease is characterized by recurrent episodes of focal inflammatory demyelination resulting in neurological symptoms. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has identified four disease categories to help distinguish the differences between how the disease presents in patients. The four types of MS are:
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis
- Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis
- Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis
- Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis
About 60-70 percent of patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) will eventually develop secondary-progressive MS (SPMS). At this stage, the disability steadily gets worse and patients experience fewer, or no periods, of remission. Only 1 of the 15 disease modifying medications is approved for secondary-progressive MS.
Ten to 15% of MS patients present with primary progressive MS. Unlike other forms of MS, there are no relapses or remission but how quickly the disease worsens varies greatly from patient to patient and is hard to predict. Like secondary-progressive MS, there is only 1 disease modifying drug approved for the treatment of primary progressive MS.
Common symptoms of progressive MS include motor weakness, progressive paralysis, sensory dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, decreased coordination and increased cognitive impairment. Stem cell therapy at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may help improve the symptoms of progressive multiple sclerosis.
Through a process called the paracrine effect, stem cells have been shown to stimulate a patient’s cells to repair diseased tissue. The paracrine effect is a form of cell-to-cell communication where the injected stem cells communicate to the patient’s stem cells, telling them to change their behavior. Animal models have shown stem cell therapy to be effective for the treatment of neurological disease such multiple sclerosis and amytrophic lateral sclerosis.
Based on the safety and efficacy in pre-clinical research, scientists at the Tisch Research Center in NY received approval to evaluate the safety and tolerability of stem cells in humans for the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis. The results of the “Phase I Trial of Intrathecal Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Neural Progenitors in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis,” were published in the journal EBioMedicine in February of 2018.
The treatment was shown to be safe and tolerable; all twenty patients completed the trial with no serious adverse events. Transient fever and mild headache were the most common adverse events reported and usually resolved within 24 hours. The efficacy of stem cell treatment was also evaluated and showed neurological improvements in 15 of the 20 patients. The disease of two patients worsened, and the condition of three remained the same. 70% of patients experienced increased muscle strength and 50% of patients showed improved bladder function. Some patients were able to stop taking their bladder medication. The results also showed no new T2 lesions or any changes in disease burden. Based on these results, physicians at the Tisch center are conducting a larger phase II trial to evaluate the efficacy of autologous mesenchymal stem cells in patients with primary progressive or secondary progressive MS.
The Stem Cells Transplant Institute is built on the foundation of research, scientific innovation and individualized patient care. The government of Costa Rica standardizes the use of therapies with adult stem cells for regenerative purposes. Contact the professionals at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute to see if stem cell therapy is right for you.
Harris, V.K., et al., Phase I Trial of IntrathecalMesenchymal StemCell-derived Neural Progenitors in ProgressiveMultiple
Sclerosis, EBioMedicine (2018), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.02.002