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Stem Cell Therapy Could Reverse Multiple Sclerosis Disability

Stem cell treatments improved muscle strength and disability among patients with multiple sclerosis.
 
Published Online: Mar 06,2018
Laurie Toich, Associate Editor
Stem cell therapy has been heralded as an innovative way to treat a host of conditions that range from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases.

New research published by EBioMedicine suggests that stem cells can be harnessed to reverse disability among patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).

These findings add to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the safety and tolerability of intrathecal administration of autologous mesenchymal stem cell-derived neural progenitors (MSC-NPs), according to the authors.

MS causes significant disability among all patients and is a leading cause of disability among young adults. Cell therapy has surfaced as a promising therapeutic approach to boost repair and regeneration among patients with disability linked to progressive MS.

“The results from our study justify the initiation of a planned FDA-approved Phase 2 trial in a larger group of patients,” said researcher Saud A. Sadiq, MD, FAAN. “We anticipate that these novel studies may form the therapeutic basis of reversing disability in patients with MS and if successful, these studies could have positive implications for treating other neurological diseases.”

Included in the trial were 20 patients with progressive MS administered 3 separate doses of MSC-NPs spaced 3 months apart.

The primary endpoint was to determine the safety and tolerability of stem cell therapy. The authors evaluated treatment response through expanded disability status scale (EDSS), a timed 25-foot walk, muscle strength, and urodynamic testing.

Overall, the findings indicated that stem cell therapy was safe and well tolerated among patients with progressive MS, according to the authors. There were no serious adverse events or hospitalizations related to treatment. The most common adverse event reported was transient headache and fever occurring within 24 hours of treatment.

The authors discovered that patients experienced a reversal of disability, indicated as improved EDSS measurements.

Additionally, 70% of patients demonstrated improvement in muscle strength and 50% had improved bladder function after stem cell therapy.

Approximately 75% of patients demonstrated improved neurological function and patients also achieved functional improvements in the timed 25-foot walk, according to the study.  

Patients with secondary primary MS and ambulatory patients saw more dramatic improvements in the endpoints, according to the study.

The authors concluded that intrathecal administration of MSC-NPs was safe and provided a significant number of benefits for patients with MS. 

“Our study was uniquely associated with repeated administrations of fresh, not cryopreserved cells, which may have contributed to the observed efficacy of the treatment,” said researcher Violaine Harris, PhD. “The protocol we created allowed for delivery of these stem cells within 30 minutes of harvesting the cells.”