Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive and disabling autoimmune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system.  As MS progresses, the body’s immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers resulting in axonal damage and loss that eventually results in paralysis of the limbs; the condition also contributes to a number of other serious communication problems between your brain and the rest of the body[1], including numbness, tremors, and issues affecting vision and speech.

To date, no effective therapeutic medication or treatment for MS exists and medication prescribed for this disease is done so for the purpose of alleviating symptoms and chronic inflammation associated with it; several of these drugs, and especially those with immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive properties have demonstrated to be only partly effective in easing autoimmune reactions.

While current immunotherapies have demonstrated to be effective in reducing the reactivity of autoimmune anti-myelin and MS relapse rate, there remains no approved method for treating or slowing progression of the disease or for repairing myelin damaged as a result of it.  As a result, Bejargafshe et al. point out that finding an appropriate clinical treatment for improvement of the neurological damage caused by MS is essential.

The authors also call attention to the numerous studies demonstrating the benefits of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in creating a number of different of autoimmune conditions, including modulating the immune response in MS patients. MSCs are specific multipotent and self-renewing stem cells that have demonstrated to be differentiated into several cell types and can be easily isolated from bone marrow and adipose tissue; this means the patient can serve as a donor for him/herself without risk of rejection. 

Bejargafshe et al.’s study reviews several clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of MSC therapy for MS patients, including several specific clinical trials examining the effectiveness of bone marrow-derived MSCs, adipose-derived MSCs (ADMSCs), USMSCs, human fetal-derived neural stem cells (hNSCs), MSC-derived neural progenitors (MSC-NPs), and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC).

The authors of this study conclude that cell-based therapies, including those mentioned in this study, have shown to repair the CNS, protect against inflammation caused by an autoimmune response, are safe and effective, and demonstrate new opportunities for preventing and treating a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases, including MS.

In addition, the authors concluded that while nearly all of the various types of stem cells evaluated provide benefits, adult MSCs, because of their safety and ease of extraction, are the most common source of stem cells used for this application, with bone marrow being the major source of MSCs used. Clinical trials indicate the observed multipotency and highly-differentiated potential of UC stem cells also make them a viable treatment option, but the need to maintain a supply of UC stem cells through cell banks limit their appeal on the basis of availability. 

Interestingly, among the potential cell therapies evaluated, adult adipose stem cells (ASC) appear to be among the most suitable cells for the treatment of MS. In addition to being very safe to use, adult ASCs are easy to separate from adipose tissue, are available from several different parts of the body, are available in a large concentration per unit area, and relatively inexpensive when used in a stem cell transfusion. Considering the benefits listed above, as well as those observed in clinical studies, the authors conclude that ASCs and HSCs are appropriate candidates for the treatment of MS.

Source: (2019, December 27). Safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for treatment of neural …. 1, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6987330/


[1] “Multiple sclerosis – Symptoms and causes ….” 12 Jun. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350269.

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