Several million people across the globe are living with the condition known as MS or multiple sclerosis. The majority of them were diagnosed with this condition between 20-40 years of age.
Due to the complexity of the condition, diagnosing MS requires a multi-stage testing process. Once a positive diagnosis has been obtained, patients have several treatment options available to them, which we’ll outline below.
The Diagnosis Process
To diagnose multiple sclerosis, doctors rely on a variety of tests that are designed to rule out other medical conditions. This is necessary because there are no specific diagnostic procedures for detecting MS. The diagnosis process may include:
Blood Tests:During initial testing, blood samples are used to rule out common conditions that present similar symptoms to MS. These blood tests also check for unique biomarkers that are associated with MS.
Spinal Tap:Depending on the results of the blood tests, the physician may schedule a spinal tap next. This test involves puncturing the lumbar spine in order to remove a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid is then subjected to laboratory analysis and checked for abnormal antibodies linked to MS.
MRI:An MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test is used to identify lesions on the spinal cord and brain. These lesions are a common sign of MS. Oftentimes, patients receive an IV injection of a “contrast material.” This substance helps to highlight legions during the MRI scan.
Evoked Potential Tests:An evoked potential test documents electrical signals that are created by your nervous system. It can use electrical stimuli or verbal stimuli in order to prompt your nervous system to create impulses. The goal of this test is to determine how fast information is traveling down nerve pathways.
MS Treatment Options
While MS has no cure, there are several viable treatment options available. These treatments can enhance the quality of life of MS sufferers and mitigate their symptoms. MS treatments include:
Corticosteroids:Corticosteroids are used to reduce nerve inflammation. They can be administered orally or through an IV. However, corticosteroids do present a risk for several side effects, such as insomnia and increased blood sugar.
Plasma Exchange:Plasma is the liquid component of blood. During this treatment, the plasma is removed and separated from the patient’s blood cells. The cells are combined with albumin (protein solution) and put back into the patient’s body.
Stem Cell Therapy:Stem cell therapy is an alternative treatment option for patients with MS. It is being used to potentially help patients suffering from symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. Stem cells stimulate the body’s natural healing capabilities and have the potential to help manage MS symptoms. If you or a loved one suffers from MS, stem cell therapy may be an option to explore as an alternative treatment.
In the United States, nearly one million people suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). That is nearly one in 330 people nationwide. While the condition is not exceedingly common, it also cannot be classified as rare. The current number of people who have MS has doubled which is why more researchers have been delving into ways to treat the condition. For MS, the mean age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 34 years. The vast majority of patients are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. However, MS has also been known to affect children and teenagers. In this article, we are going to talk about the stem cell transplant benefits for patients with MS.
The Slowing of Progression
Much of the research and medical development for MS have been focused on slowing the progression of the disease. There are currently several medications on the market that are geared toward doing just that. There has also been stem cell research done that has shown positive results.
While many drugs have succeeded in slowing the progression rate of MS, one important downside is the cost. Long-term use of these medications can affect a patient’s budget. If remission is gained, however, the patient can discontinue those drugs indefinitely.
One experiment involved patients from four countries, including the United States. All of the patients were given chemotherapy. Following this treatment, half were given drugs and the other half were administered stem cell therapy.
All patients that received the stem cell injections were clear from recurring symptoms after a year. Only six out of 52 had recurring symptoms after three years. The results of this experiment were released just a few years ago and have garnered the attention of researchers, as well as the desire for more trials.
Stem cell therapy for the treatment of MS has been around for longer than most people realize. It began in the 1990s with hematopoietic stem cells, or HSC transplants, for patients that were not responding well to the conventional medications given at the time.
The method used for some of these trials was immunoablation. This is the process of partially destroying a faulty immune system and then replacing it with newer, healthier cells. Researchers have used it in further studies based on its early encouraging results. With this in mind, there may be hope on the horizon for the use of stem cells to achieve remission. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation contact a care coordinator today!
Typically understood to support hematopoiesis and to produce the cells of the mesodermal lineage, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in bone marrow, fat, and other tissues of the body, have recently been found to contain additional properties that include immunomodulator and neurotrophic effects.
Considering earlier studies that have demonstrated favorable effects of MSC treatments in a variety of conditions – including stroke, multiple sclerosis, multi-system atrophy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Petrou et al. performed this double-blind study as a way to evaluate the best way of administration and the safety and clinical efficacy of MSC transplantation – specifically in patients with active and progressive multiple sclerosis.
The response of the 48 patients with progressive multiple sclerosis and with displaying evidence of either clinical worsening or activity during the previous year in this study were evaluated after being treated intrathecally (IT) or intravenously (IV) with autologous MSCs or with sham injections. Having identified a critical and unmet need for treatment, the goal of Petrou et al.’s study was to examine the therapeutic efficacy of MSC transplantation in this specific population.
Over the course of this controlled clinical trial, participants were randomly assigned to three treatment groups and treated (either intrathecally or intravenously) with autologous MSCs or with sham injections. At the 6-month mark, the authors of this study retreated half of the patients in both the MSC-IT and MSC-IV groups with MSCs, while the remaining participants were treated with sham injections. The same process occurred with patients initially treated with sham injections; meaning that at the 6-month mark, half were either treated with MSC-IT or MSC-IV.
Prior to the start of this study, Petrou et al. established a number of primary and secondary endpoints. Predetermined primary endpoints of this study included: the safety of the MSC-IV and MSC-IT treatments and the difference among the three groups in relation to performance on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) at 6- and 12-month intervals. Predetermined secondary endpoints included the difference between the sham-treated and MSC-IT or MSC-IV treated group in the number of relapses and the relapse rate, the number of MRI gadolinium-enhancing lesions, the annualized rate of change in the T2 lesion load on MRI, percent brain volume change, performance on a series of physical and cognitive functions, and the retinal nerve fiber layer thickness.
At the conclusion of this 14-month trial, the authors reported that the study demonstrated positive results in all predetermined primary endpoints. More specifically, throughout the course of this study, the authors discovered that significantly fewer patients experienced treatment failure in the MSC0IT and MSC-IV groups compared with those in the sham-treated group. Additionally, over the course of the following year, nearly 59% and 41% of patients treated with MSC-IT and MSC-IV exhibited no evidence of multiple sclerosis activity; this is compared with less than 10% of patients in the sham-treated group.
Significant improvements of those receiving MSC-IT treatment (compared to sham treatment) were also observed in the following: ambulation index, the sum of functional scores, 25-foot timed walk test, 9-hole peg tests, PASAT and OWAT/KAVE cognitive tests, and newer biomarkers, including retinal nerve fiber layer and motor network. The authors also report beneficial, but less significant effects were observed in the MSC-IV groups.
Although the authors report a number of limitations associated with this study, including a small number of patients in each group, the short duration of the study, and the crossover design of the study (which could have resulted in a “carry-over” effect from the first cycle of treatment), they also conclude that the clinically significant findings observed in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis who were previously unresponsive to traditional or conventional therapies provide clear evidence of short-term efficacy and possible indications of neuroprotection induced by administration of autologous MSCs in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis.
In addition, the authors found that intrathecal administration of MSCs appears more beneficial than intravenous, as well as the potential benefits provided by receiving repeated injections of MSCs.
As such, Petrou et al. conclude by calling for a larger phase III study to confirm these findings and as a way to further evaluate the therapeutic potential of autologous MSCs in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, including active progressive multiple sclerosis.
In January of 2021, new research provided evidence about the effectiveness of certain types of stem cell therapies in treating multiple sclerosis. The study suggests that stem cell therapy presents long-term benefits for patients. Stem cell therapy for Multiple Sclerosis seems to offer potential advantages for those who suffer from this condition. The question at hand is Could Stem cell therapy be a breakthrough against MS? keep reading this article to find out!
The new study comes out of Italy, where researchers had access to 210 patients. Some patients in the sample received stem cell transplants. Of those that received the transplant, nearly 70% did not experience worsening disability, even up to years after their transplant.
Most of the patients who experienced long-term benefits had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. This is the most common form of MS. Around 85% of those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis have this form of the condition. A spokesperson for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society noted how dramatic these results appear to be.
As with all studies, there are some caveats to these findings. The study did not test these therapies against common medications prescribed for MS. In other words, this study does not speak to the efficacy of stem cell transplants in comparison to other types of treatments. Still, the increased benefits for patients seem promising.
The patients were also given stem cell transplants at a number of different treatment centers. All of the patients received stem cell therapy in Italy between the years 1997 and 2019. Dr. Alexander Rae-Grant is a fellow at the American Academy of Neurology. He believes that stem cell therapies are best suited for young patients. These therapies may also be useful for those who see little benefit from medications.
However, the procedure is not without its potential limitations. When a particular medication is not providing the benefit that it should, the patient can usually alter the course of their treatment. This is not the case when it comes to stem cell therapy procedures. Stem cell therapy has potential benefits based on the science of what stem cells have the ability to do. However, alterations are hard to achieve once they enter the body.
Clearly, this Italian study does not answer every question about stem cell therapy, but it does offer important information and promising outcomes for patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
The effectiveness of stem cell therapies compared with MS medications will be the focus of upcoming studies. New research will likely provide a fuller understanding of this approach to MS treatment. In the meantime, current studies are showing positive outcomes providing patients with an alternative option to help to manage their conditions. If you would like to speak with a care coordinator to learn more contact us today!
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the protective sheath covering nerve fibers, known as the myelin. As a result, communication issues between the brain and other parts of the body occur. While there are currently several medications that can treat MS, some have serious side effects and may eventually stop working. So we ask ourselves ” How can stem cells help Multiple Sclerosis? ”
Recently, stem cell therapy has emerged as a new potential treatment option for people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). In this version of the disease, symptoms may subside and then reappear in what’s known as a relapse. Eventually, RRMS can develop into a different form of MS in which symptoms stop subsiding.
Stem Cell Therapy for MS
Stem cells have the unique ability to transform into virtually any other differentiated cell type in the body. There are different stem cell therapy options in the field of Regenerative Medicine today. For instance, one is using hematopoietic stem cells that can differentiate into blood cells. In certain circumstances, doctors may use hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to treat RRMS.
First, doctors prescribe medication to increase the production of bone marrow stem cells. They then take some blood and reserve the stem cells for later use. Next, they prescribe strong medications, including chemotherapy, to suppress the immune system. Patients will require monitoring during this period of weakened immunity, and may therefore require a prolonged hospital stay.
Thereafter, the stem cells will be injected into the bloodstream to form new white blood cells and create an entirely new immune system. Until your immune system is functioning fully and independently, you’ll receive medications such as antibiotics to fight off illnesses or infections.
The treatment can take weeks, and recovery may take several months. Each individual is different, but many see a return to normal immune system functioning within six months.
Is Stem Cell Therapy a Potential Option for MS?
MS is a chronic disease for which there is currently no full cure, but results of stem cell therapy clinical trials are promising. In one, 69% of people had no relapse of MS symptoms or new brain lesions five years after receiving the treatment.
As with any treatment, it’s important to consider the risks involved with HSCT as well. For this therapy in particular, the risks of immune system suppression can be considerable. Nonetheless, for people with highly inflammatory RRMS with serious relapses and progressing symptoms, the risk/benefit ratio may be worth reviewing. Other studies are also showing potential for those with Multiple Sclerosis that how shown to be safe and effective.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disorder in which the information that flows between the brain and body becomes disrupted. It’s estimated that at least one million people in the U.S. are living with MS. In this condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the brain known as the myelin sheath, or the protective coverings for the nerves. This immune system attack also results in inflammation which can further damage nerve cells. Here is how regenerative medicine is used to manage multiple sclerosis.
People with MS can experience a wide range of unpredictable symptoms which may include:
Numbness or weakness in the limbs
Tingling or pain throughout the body
Experts aren’t sure what causes MS, though it’s believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to a person’s risk. Women are also two to three times more likely to have the condition.
Regenerative Therapy for MS
Fortunately, the outlook for people with MS has improved over the years. Medications are available to both manage symptoms and modify the progression of the disease. In addition, patients may also be able to explore options such as regenerative therapy to halt the progression of MS and control symptoms without the side effects that come with medications.
Regenerative therapy is used to trigger the natural repair processes within the body, thereby replacing damaged cells with new, healthy ones. In particular, mesenchymal stem cells could be used to repair and replace damaged nerve cells. These cells also have anti-inflammatory properties and can restore the myelin on nerve cells to essentially reprogram the immune system. Patients could then see benefits such as:
Improved coordination and concentration
Reduced muscle spasms and pain
Reduced numbness and tingling
Improved bladder function
Better energy levels
Better balance and range of motion
Improved sense of touch and vision
Slowing or decreased rate of progression
Currently, patients may undergo regenerative therapies such as stem cell injections. These cells can regenerate lost or damaged cells, including myelin sheath tissue. They can also modulate the immune system to halt the attack on healthy cells, returning it to a state of rest and allowing the body to restore its proper levels of wellness.
Patients who have undergone stem cell therapy for MS have witnessed noteworthy improvements in the areas of neurologic disability, functional scores, and overall quality of life. Moreover, side effects are mild and generally include headache and fatigue.
While research into regenerative medicine to manage Multiple Sclerosis is ongoing, the findings revealed so far suggest that stem cell therapy and similar treatments hold considerable potential for helping people with MS and other autoimmune disorders.
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