Multiple sclerosis patients’ stem cells may bring partial recovery

Multiple sclerosis patients’ stem cells may bring partial recovery

What if I told you the key to a promising potential new multiple sclerosis treatment is found in the blood of people suffering from the disease?

You might think this sounds too good to be true. More testing needs to be done, but researchers in Chicago think they may be on to something. The element found in patients’ blood is a type of stem cell. These special cells can develop into any type of blood cell.

The potential new treatment involves collecting some of the stem cells from a patient’s blood, then treating him or her with medication to tune down the immune system.

This is important because in people with multiple sclerosis, the immune system acts against the body. It attacks a nerve cell protective covering called the myelin sheath. When the sheath becomes damaged, transmission between the brain and the nerve cell is compromised and nerves also can degrade.

This causes problems with movement, sight, speech and other bodily processes.

The goal of the new treatment is to help “reset” the immune system, making it less likely to harm the body.

Once the immune system has been quieted via medication, the next step is to infuse the stem cells back into the body.

Over several years, many patients in the first stage of the disease saw a significant improvement in their abilities after treatment. That is, some of the damage caused by the illness actually was reversed in these patients.

But, for people with more advanced multiple sclerosis or those who had the disease for 10 years or more, no marked recovery was seen.

More extensive testing for safety and efficacy is required. But these Chicago scientists have gotten a great start in their quest for a game-changing therapy.

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