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Trans-Pacific partnership will study new ways of treating multiple sclerosis with stem cells

Scientists from Australia and California will receive a joint Australian and Californian government grant to study new ways of treating multiple sclerosis with stem cells. The study will concentrate on using adult stem cells.

Australian government will direct $1.75 million to scientists from Monash University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Melbourne. At the same time, the Californian Institute of Regenerative Medicine will grant $4.7 million to their partners at the University of California.

Currently available treatment for multiple sclerosis can help to get unpredictable relapses of MS under control. Still, no treatments can slow down or reverse neurons damage in patients suffering from progressive forms of the disease. The grant is aimed to help the trans-pacific team to develop a stem cell therapy that will help regenerate damaged neurons and reverse the disease.

The team will experiment with human skin cells re-programmed into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) that have the properties of embryonic stem cells and, in particular, can give rise to various cell types including myelin-producing cells that get damaged in multiple sclerosis patients.

The researchers will concentrate on pre-clinical testing of the stem cells in laboratory models of MS. At this stage, they aim to confirm the stem cell potential to repair nervous cells. Also, they will develop and test the technology of producing human stem cells according to the standards required for future clinical trials involving multiple sclerosis patients.