A recent case study has reported that the use of human embryonic stem cells has helped two patients: one with Lyme disease and the other with multiple sclerosis. Though Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis occur for different reasons – Lyme disease results from tick bites, whereas autoimmunity is the culprit in multiple sclerosis – the two conditions are hard to distinguish clinically, leading to the idea that they may be able to be treated in similar ways. Both patients with Lyme disease and those with multiple sclerosis display neurological conditions such as problems with cognition, vision, sensation, and fatigue.
Traditionally, these diseases have been treated in different ways. Patients with Lyme disease are generally given antibiotics, but the antibiotics are often associated with adverse side effects or are not fully effective. Multiple sclerosis, on the other hand, is often treated with steroids and immunosuppressants, but unfortunately, the treatment regimens for multiple sclerosis often lead to a number of life threatening conditions. As progress has been made applying stem cell therapies to disorders of the nervous system, it has been theorized that stem cells may be able to help with both Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis.
In these case studies, embryonic stem cells were administered to a 30 year old woman with Lyme disease and a 42 year old man with multiple sclerosis. Following their treatment, both patients showed improvement in neurological performance related to muscle strength, cognition, coordination, and stamina. Further, the nervous system of both patients was assessed with both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). These imaging techniques demonstrated improvements in the brains of the patients.
That stem cells led to both functional and physiological improvements continue to support the idea that stem cells can be used to treat neurological conditions and that they can specifically support the treatment of Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis. As neither patient experienced any adverse side effects related to the stem cell therapy, it appears that there are safe options for applying stem cells in these conditions. Further research will help to clarify specific protocols that can be used to treat Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis patients with stem cells.
Learn more about how adult stem cell therapy can provide an alternative for MS patients who don’t respond to typical drug treatment here.
Shroff, G. (2016). Transplantation of human embryonic stem cells in patients with multiple sclerosis and Lyme disease. American Journal of Case Reports, 17, 944-949.