Human Stem Cells Reverse Multiple Sclerosis in Mice

Human Stem Cells Reverse Multiple Sclerosis in Mice

Researchers in California have discovered – almost by accident – that human stem cells can reverse a multiple sclerosis type condition in mice. The findings, which will soon be published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, could potentially lead to new types of treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).

bigstock-Scientist-Or-Chemist-With-Petr-2935640When scientists first transplanted the stem cells into severely disabled MS mice, they thought the cells would be rejected, much like donor organs are rejected after a transplant. But the experiment had surprising results.

“My postdoctoral fellow Dr. Lu Chen came to me and said, ‘The mice are walking.’ I didn’t believe her,” said co-senior author, Tom Lane, PhD., a professor of pathology at the University of Utah, who began the study at University of California, Irvine.

Within 10 to 14 days, the mice regained their lost motor skills. And six months later, they still show no signs of slowing down.

“This result opens up a whole new area of research for us,” said co-senior author Jeanne Loring, PhD, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

MS is a chronic disease which attacks the body’s central nervous system. The disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks a fatty substance called myelin, which coats nerves in the brain’s white matter. When the nerves are exposed, transmission of nerve impulses can be slowed or interrupted. Symptoms may be mild or severe, including numbness in the limbs, difficulty walking, paralysis, loss of vision, fatigue and pain.

Researchers say the MS mice treated with human stem cells experienced a dramatic reversal of symptoms within days. Immune attacks were blunted and damaged myelin was repaired.

Their original prediction that the mice would reject the stem cells also came true. There were no signs of the cells after one week.

Researchers are eager to further test the therapy in clinical studies on humans.

“Rather than having to engraft stem cells into a patient, which can be challenging, we might be able to put those chemical signals into a drug that can be used to deliver the therapy much more easily,” said Lane.

“I would love to see something that could promote repair and ease the burden that patients with MS have.”

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved a small study of human stem cells harvested from the bone marrow of MS patients. The stem cells are injected into the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cords of the patients. Previous studies of this therapy in humans found that it reduced brain inflammation and repaired damaged layers of myelin.

There is no known cure for MS and drugs to treat it have limited effectiveness. An estimated 400,000 Americans have the disease and more than 2 million worldwide.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. nadine at 10:46 am

    sharon, check out dr. burt and barb’s fb group. this is for real. a year ago today i had my stem cell transplant done in chicago and went from a wheelchair to stairs, no pain and almost no meds. it wasn’t easy but so worth it and i’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  2. Sharon Dinnell at 11:26 pm

    Would human cells work for RA and other arthritis that criple us

  3. Joe at 9:57 am

    The idea that FDA doesn’t approve drugs because then people will stay sick and they get more money is just ridiculous. FDA is not paid by how many drugs are sold. You might want to criticize the criteria they use but to say they want to keep cures off the market is just absurd.

  4. Kim at 7:17 am

    @ Dennis, never has there been a ban on stem cells.. In 2001, Bush limited FEDERAL FUNDING for embryonic research to 60 designated lines . This didn’t ban any privately funded research and did not ban federally funded embryonic stem cell research either. SO…. lets not play the victim of a non existent ban. I know we would all love a cure an would love to see it happen soon. If stem cells are the way, so be it. I doubt it will be embryonic stem cells though, since not one therapy has been produced using them yet.

  5. Barb Coppins at 2:31 pm

    Dennis, Dr. Burt in Chicago is currently in phase III trial for HSCT Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant for MS & many other auto immune diseases. It’s not the same as mentioned in the above article. My husband had it fine in May 2011 & had had no further progression of MS & it reversed his double vision, numbness, pain & more. Join the FB Group linked above or search clinicaltrials.gov for multiple sclerosis Burt Chicago. AND our insurance, Medicare, paid for it!!! 🙂

  6. Tara Hanna at 12:49 pm

    The FDA tends to turn down treatments that work because if we stay sick, they get more money. Would this be approved? My next question is how can we make this affordable? Dennis is right. Many MS treatments are astronomical in cost! What to we have to do to get this passed? I’m on board if it means an end to this horrible illness! I know my own healthy stem cells and bone marrow were used in my ankle surgery to reform my ligaments and it worked beautifully! Would it be our own cells and marrow or does MS damage them too much for that?

  7. nadine at 3:32 pm

    i had Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (hsct) almost a year ago for ms. it was own stem cells though i did need a blood transfusion during the process. it got me out of a wheelchair and off almost all my meds! and medicare plus my secondary insurance paid for it. dr. burt at northwestern in chicago was amazing! they treat several autoimmune diseases w. hsct.

  8. Dennis Kinch at 10:53 am

    I have a disease that has all the symptoms of MS plus more, but it’s a bone marrow thing. Stem cell treatment came up as a possibility but it was banned at the time so no research could be done. When the ban was lifted (thank you Pres. Obama for having common sense) I found that it was extremely expensive and not covered by most insurance.

    Does anyone have anymore insight into this? I do know that stem cells hold a huge amount of promise to a lot of diseases and have the possibility of changing the world of pain, but how and when are up for debate. The idea of a pill to deliver the cells is a big breakthrough.