Friday, January 30, 2009

Adult Stem Cells Successfully Reset Immune System for Multiple Sclerosis Patients


Adult Stem Cells Successfully Reset Immune System for Multiple Sclerosis Patients

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 29, 2009

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Chiacgo, IL ( -- Adult stem cells continue to outpace their embryonic counterparts by successfully treating patients with a variety of diseases and conditions. Now, the use of adult stem cells from bone marrow has helped patients suffering from the early stages of multiple sclerosis.

A new study shows a research team appears to have reversed the neurological dysfunction of early-stage multiple sclerosis patients by transplanting their own immune stem cells into their bodies and thereby "resetting" their immune systems.

Dr. Robert Burt, the lead researcher on a team from Northwestern University conducted a study using hematopoietic, or blood-forming, stem cells
extracted form a patient's bone marrow.

Three years after treatment, 17 of the 21 patients involved in the study saw improvement and none of the patients involved saw their MS conditions worsen during the follow-up time period.

"This is the first study to actually show reversal of disability," Burt an associate professor in the division of immunotherapy at Northwestern, said in the study published in the British medical journal Lancet. "Some people had complete disappearance of all symptoms."

"This is the first time we have turned the tide on this disease," Burt continued.

Edwin McClure, a 24-year-old graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University is one of the patients treated in the study and he told Bloomburg News that he hasn't needed any drugs since the treatment.

"It's a blessing," he said. "My disease has been halted."

The adult stem cells appear to help patients better when given during the earliest onset of the disease. Burt and his team had given patients with more advanced MS the cells and saw no effect.

"I called it a failure," he said. "When you do it in late-stage patients, they don't improve."

Burt is now putting together a larger study with more patients from the United States as well as Canada and Brazil.

"If the results of today's study are borne out in the new one, I think we can really change the way this disease is approached," Burt said.

The study will be published online January 30 and in the March issue of The Lancet Neurology.

Buzz up!


Marc said...

There's one issue of concern though. How do you "reset" an immune system? In this particular case, they destroyed the immune system and then injected stem cells to have them re-build an immune system from scratch. That doesn't exactly fit my definition of "resetting". It's a bit more of a scorched earth approach.

That being said, there are many patients who are in a bad situation who would take on the risk happily. But we shouldn't look at this as if it would be a standard treatment for most/all. It may be the building block of a potentially safer method to be developed later that could apply to greater population of MS patients, but for the time being, this appears to have very significant potential hazards. We're likely to see those develop as the testing expands.

Kaz Wesierski said...

I have had MS for 24 years.. A year ago CBC The National News has reported the results of a procedure developed by Dr. Mark Freedman at the University of Ottawa, in Canada involving stem cells from the persons bone marrow. They talk about the complete reversal of MS. Why is Steven Ertelt the editor making it sound like it is a break through by USA Dr. Robert Burt?

Timothy said...

is an email where you email Steven about this issue.