Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS), is a chronic, immune-mediated disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, stroke and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are the most common diseases of the central nervous system. Transplantation of stem cells is a very promising approach for the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis. The Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, uses adult autologous stem cells for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute could help improve the symptoms of MS:

  • Visual disturbances
  • Loss of balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Numbness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Emotional disturbances

What is multiple sclerosis?

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.  Conventional therapy reduces or stops the episodes of inflammation but does not effectively impact the course of progressive MS.1

About 2.5 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and although people at any age can be diagnosed with MS, most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Multiple Sclerosis (MS), is a chronic, immune-mediated disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves).

Axons of the brain and spinal cord are nerve fibers that transmit information to different neurons, muscles and glands in the body. The axons of the brain and spinal cord are wrapped in a protective myelin sheath; a fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers.  Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed when the immune system attacks, and damages the myelin sheath, impacting the central nervous system’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body.

Sclerosis means the abnormal hardening of body tissue, and multiple sclerosis refers to the many sites of scarring, plaques or lesions that are found, as the myelin that covers the nerve fibers, is damaged. Eventually the nerves themselves begin to deteriorate and can become permanently damaged. The specific symptom or symptoms that someone experiences are related to the area or areas that have been affected. The cause of the disease is unknown.

Four types of MS:

  1. Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS); the most common form of MS.
  2. Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS); diagnosed when the problems caused by an exacerbation don’t fully resolve during a remission. This often occurs in patients who were initially diagnosed with RRMS.
  3. Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS); progresses over time, without episodes of remission or improvement of symptoms.
  4. Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS); identified when patients experience escalating symptoms over time, as well as intermittent episodes of remission.

Standard of care includes:

  • Interferon therapies
  • Glatiramer acetate
  • Natalizumab
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Approved medications for symptomatic relief

A combination of these drugs can modify the course of the disease and can alleviate symptoms, but they are costly, and are associated with serious side effects. It can be difficult for patients to find the right combination of medications that address all of the symptoms, and serious side effects can keep patients from maintaining the necessary treatment.

Can stem cell therapy improve symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

Mesenchymal stem cells can reverse the damage to nervous system and improve the symptoms of MS, resulting in an improved quality of life.  Mesenchymal stem cells produce; 1. proteins that support the growth and survival of neurons, 2. angiogenic factors that are essential for the healing, growth, development, and maintenance of blood vessels, and 3. immunomodulatory substances that can reverse the damage to the nerves.2,3 For patients with multiple sclerosis this means, the stem cells repair the damaged areas of demyelination and grow new, healthy cells, preventing future damage and improving symptoms. Initial research evaluating the safety and efficacy of autologous stem cell transplantation to treat patients with multiple sclerosis is promising.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic published the results of their pilot study evaluating the feasibility, safety, and tolerability of autologous MSC transplantation in MS patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), The results of the trial showed autologous stem cell transplantation to be feasible, safe and well tolerated.4

Physicians in Barcelona, Spain evaluated the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells in patients unresponsive to conventional therapy and they too found stem cell transplantation to be safe and effective.

Results at 6 months and 1 year showed; fewer enhancing lesions, a reduction in T2 lesion volume and reduced retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness.

Exciting progress is being made through innovative research evaluating the safety and efficacy of stem cell transplantation for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. With the urgent need for more effective treatments for multiple sclerosis, particularly for those with more progressive forms of the disease, the Stem Cells Transplant Institute believes that the potential of all types of cell therapies must be explored.

What type of stem cells are used?

The Stem Cells Transplant Institute uses autologous adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.  Autologous means the stem cells are collected from the recipient so the risk of rejection is virtually eliminated. Mesenchymal stem cells are one type of adult stem cells that are found in a variety of tissues including; adipose tissue, lung, bone marrow, and blood.  There are large numbers of stem cells in subcutaneous adipose tissue, and this tissue is easy to obtain without a painful procedure, Mesenchymal stem cells are a promising treatment for multiple sclerosis. Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may improve the symptoms of MS.

How are the stem cells collected?

A team of stem cell experts developed an FDA approved method and protocol for harvesting and isolating adipose derived stem cells for autologous reimplantation. It is this FDA approved method that we use at the Stem Cells Transplant Insitute. The collection and use of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of embryos and for this reason, more U.S. federal funding is being spent on stem cell research.

How are the stem cells administered?

Stem cells are administered by intravenous and intrathecal injection.

About the Stem Cells Transplant Institute

Costa Rica has one of the best healthcare systems in world and is ranked among the highest for medical tourism. Using the most advanced technologies, the team of experts at The Stem Cells Transplant Institute believes in the potential of stem cell therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. We are committed to providing personalized service and the highest quality of care to every patient. Contact the experts at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute to see if stem cells transplantation is a viable treatment option for you.



1 Panagiotis Douvaras et al., Efficient Generation of Myelinating Oligodendrocytes from PrimaryProgressive Multiple Sclerosis Patients by Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Stem Cell Reports j Vol. 3 j 250–259 j August 12, 2014. 2 Cell Death Discovery (2016) 2, e16055; doi:10.1038/cddiscovery.2016.55; published online 11 July 2016 Mesenchymal stem cells to treat diabetic neuropathy: a long and strenuous way from bench to the clinic JY Zhou 3. Vickers RE et al., A preliminary report on stem cell therapy for neuropathic pain in humans. J Pain Res. 2014; 7: 255–263. Published online 2014 May 8.  4 Jeffrey A Cohen et al.,Pilot trial of intravenous autologous culture-expanded mesenchymal stem cell   transplantation in multiple sclerosis Multiple Sclerosis Journal 1–11DOI: 10.1177/1352458517703802. 5 Sara Llufriu et al.,Randomized Placebo-Controlled Phase II Trial of Autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Multiple Sclerosis. PLoS ONE 9(12): e113936. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0113936

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