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Stem cell therapies show promise for multiple sclerosis

UK scientists are about to launch a trial in which bone marrow stem cells will be used for multiple sclerosis treatment. Scientists believe that one day such a treatment could stop and revert multiple sclerosis progression. Their findings are published in the journal The Lancet.  

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which person’s own immune system destroys myelin sheath that covers neurons. Without this sheath, neural signals, or impulses, cannot be properly  transmitted, which leads to various neural malfunctions,  

About 3 million people are affected by MS worldwide. The cause of this disease is yet unknown, but in 80% of cases it leads to disability, and conventional treatments show little results.

Previous developments in stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis focused on replacing oligodendrites, or cells responsible for myelin production. However, this approach, has had limited application. However, the scientists hope that stem cell treatment which they tried on mice will bring cure to humans in the future.

In a trial that will start in a few months multiple sclerosis patients will be transplanted their own bone marrow stem cells into. Infusions will be made into an arm vein. Overall, 80 patients are expected to participate in the trial.

Researchers expect that bone marrow stem cells circulating in the body will boost activity of the stem cells already present at damage sites and help those cells produce new myelin more effectively.

The trial will cost millions of dollars, and the scientists expect to have results on about three years.