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:
- Vision changes
- Numbness or weakness in the limbs
- Slurred speech
- Gait changes
- 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
- Reduced headaches
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.