Important multiple sclerosis stem cell trial begins

Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 in Health

An important new clinical trial involving 150 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients is set to begin later this year. The trial will investigate whether stem cells can be used as an effective treatment in the fight against MS.

Doctors hope that the new stem cell treatment will be able to stop or even reverse the damage sustained to brain cells in people who suffer from the disease.

At present there is no proven stem cell treatment for MS sufferers. However, many people have travelled to overseas stem cell clinics in order to pay for some of the unproven treatments that are on offer. The UK MS Society, which has partially funded the trial, hopes that it will prove and establish a treatment and prevent the need for many patients to travel overseas.

Stem cells will be collected from the patient’s bone marrow, grown in the laboratory and injected back into the patient’s blood. These cells will then be transported to the brain where researchers hope they will repair the damage.

It is estimated that there are 3 million people who suffer from MS around the world. There are approximately 100,000 people in the UK who suffer from the neurological condition. It is also the most common neurological condition found in young British people.

Dr Doug Brown, of the MS Society, said: “These experiments have confirmed that these stem cells hold that potential – but these need to be confirmed in large scale clinical trials.” Dr Brown also suggested that much more research and development is needed before this potential new treatment would be on offer to sufferers of the disease.

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