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Placenta Stem Cells Confirm Safety and Show Promise for Multiple Sclerosis Patients

The first ever study of treating multiple sclerosis with stem cells derived from placenta showed no safety issues. The results of the study by scientists at Mount Sinai, Celgene Cellular Therapeutics subsidiary of Celgene Corporation, were presented in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

The study’s primary goal was to test the safety of the treatment. However, its data show that preparation of cultured cells named PDA-001 may restore damaged nervous cells in MS patients. By their properties, these cells are very similar to mesenchymal stem cells that are derived from human bone marrow and have been intensively tested in treatment of various diseases, including multiple sclerosis, worldwide over the past years. However, in contrast to mesenchymal stem cells that are quite scarce, placenta stromal cells are more numerous meaning that one placenta is enough for treating many patients.

Being a chronic autoimmune disorder, multiple sclerosis involves myelin—the fatty protective coating of nerve cells—destruction and manifests itself in various nervous system disorders leading to worsening disability that can lead even to blindness and paralysis.

It is very important to assess safety of the treatment since any altering of the immune system resulting from such a treatment can result in worsening MS activity. The study involved 16 patients suffering from multiple sclerosis aged 18 to 65. Six patients were given a high cell dose, six – a lower dose and 4 – a placebo. All the patients underwent monthly brain scans over the next half year to insure they did not demonstrate worsening brain lesions. None of the participants showed worsening over the follow-up period and the majority demonstrated stable or even improved condition a year after the treatment.

As the study leader Fred Lublin informs, it was the first time cells from placenta were used for multiple sclerosis therapy. As a next step, the researchers plan to address the efficacy side of the treatment involving more multiple sclerosis patients.