If the cells are able to repair the damaged myelin the hope is that symptoms will be relieved. Researchers are optimistic about finding the compound which will stimulate this reaction. Initial findings are due in spring of 2015.
While this has been happening on the West Coast, on the other side of the country, researchers are trying to use stem cells to repair the damage caused by MS.
The Tisch MS Research Center of New York has a current study involving humans which takes stem cells from participants’ bone marrow, transforms them in a laboratory, and then injects them back into the participants’ spinal fluid.
Researchers are intent on learning whether these stem cells will help repair the brain’s damaged myelin sheaths. Some critics argue that this approach won’t work because the harvested cells are not exactly like the ones native to the body.
While some researchers are focused on a cure, others are looking for ways to stop the progression of MS. A promising clinical study in Seattle just released its interim report after three years.
The HALT-MS study found that almost 80 percent of participants showed no new brain lesions, had no relapses of their MS, and showed no increase in their disability during the study.
This study used a treatment that is common to treat leukemia.
The two dozen study participants received a high-dose immunosuppressive therapy, and then received a transplant of the participant’s own stem cells in an effort to reboot their immune system.
Though more results and a larger study of this treatment are needed, MS experts are cautiously optimistic that this could help halt MS in some patients.
Research into multiple sclerosis will likely continue with the opening of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases in Massachusetts. The White House has also allocated about $100 million dollars to better understand the brain.
More funding and focused research will hopefully yield better treatments and an eventual cure of multiple sclerosis.
1) Newsweek.com. Web. 13 February 2015. “The hunt for a Multiple Sclerosis Cure.”