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Hopeful multiple sclerosis trials

Encouraging results have brought clinical trials on six multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, after they received stem cell injections. The trials took place at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol and are supposed to be a world first. Six patients were injected with stem cells harvested from their own bone marrow. This helped to increase nerve function by up to 20%.

To the fact, a multiple sclerosis is a nervous system disorder that affects around 40 in every 100,000 people in the UK. Usually it leads to a variety of symptoms, including muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of co-ordination, visual and speech difficulties. A study was undertaken by a team from the University of Bristol.

Hundreds of thousands of the patients' PCT stem cells were collected and filtered from their bone marrow while they were under general anaesthetic. Prof. Neil Scolding, a study leader, stressed to the BBC that the research was still in its infancy.

The cells were injected en masse into the patients' bloodstream. Such treatment has the added benefit of being a relatively pain-free procedure and it has no side effects. A larger study is required to assess the effectiveness of bone marrow cellular therapy in treating MS. The scientists hope that recruitment to this phase 2/3 study may begin towards the end of this year.