What is stem cell treatment?
Stem cells are constantly produced throughout life in bone marrow and in other parts of the body. Stem cells are cells that can be taken from various sites in the body and then treated to enable them to be used to help replace damaged tissues or rebuild the immune system. In MS, some researchers are looking at using stem cells to replace damaged myelin while others are using stem cell transplantation to "re-boot" the immune system so that it no longer contains cells that attack the body's own tissues.
Stem cells and MS
Stem cell treatments in to MS are becoming a reality, stem cells may be used in different ways to try and repair damage or to alter the way in which the immune system works in MS. In the UK, the most common form of research in MS is called autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or AHSCT. In these studies cells are taken from the bone marrow, a sight where stem cells are constantly produced to replenish a range of blood cells including cells with the potential to become immune cells (lymphocytes). The rational for this treatment is to 'reboot' the immune system with cells that have not been converted in to cells that attack myelin. Early studies show potential to be as effective if not more effective than the strongest current MS drugs, however the risks attached to stem cell transplantation are not trivial and research in this field is still in its infancy. MS Research have funded one of the UK's stem cell studies and look forward to more applications in this field. MS Research will keep following all of the developments in stem cell therapy and offer social media posts and new data as it becomes available from the many research projects around the world currently being undertaken.