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.