Stem cell treatment doesn’t always work for multiple sclerosis.
Pre-existing inflammatory diseases affecting the central nervous system make mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) less effective in treating multiple sclerosis (MS), concludes a study by researchers at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
The study, “CNS disease diminishes the therapeutic functionality of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells,” notes that MSCs potentially produce several signaling proteins that can regulate immune system responses as well as help tissue regenerate. Preclinical studies have shown that this can reduce brain inflammation while improving neural repair in animal models of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). This model resembles the inflammation and neuronal damage seen in MS patients.
Given the need for effective new MS therapies, the results will help MSCs to advance to human clinical trials. So far, results have reported good safety data, though such therapies have failed to demonstrate therapeutic efficacy. Most such trials so far have used stem cells collected from the patient, a process known as autologous transplantation — yet this may explain why MSCs have not been effective. It’s possible that pre-existing neurological conditions may alter stem cells’ responsiveness as well as their therapeutic activity.
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