Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is caused by an immune-mediated attack targeting components of the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is known to act as an “insulator” for neurons so that they can communicate properly with each other.

At present there are no FDA-approved treatments that specifically target the abnormal immune responses in MS. Current approaches, such as interferon, copaxone, or immune suppressants all act in a nonspecific manner blocking immune responses against the myelin sheath. While these approaches are useful for reducing the severity of disease, they do not repair the damage to nervous system tissue that has already occurred and therefore they cannot cure multiple sclerosis.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have immune regulatory properties which may stop the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath.

Mesenchymal stem cells may also potentially help remyelination (re-generation of the myelin sheath) of the affected neurons. Currently, the University of Cambridge is conducting formal clinical studies using mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of MS.

We published results from our phase 1/2 clinical trial in the March, 2018 edition of the Journal of Translational Medicine.  The name of the trial is “Clinical feasibility of umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of multiple sclerosis“.  

This study concluded that “…intravenous infusion of  [Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells] UCMSC over several days is safe in subjects with MS. Additionally, UCMSC infusions may hold benefits, since this small study group saw improvement in bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction, walking, upper extremity physical function, energy and fatigue, general perspective of a positive health change and improved quality of life, and MRI lesions…”

In addition to our recent clinical trial findings, we have observed similar types of improvements in multiple sclerosis patients treated at our facilities over the past 13 years.

At present there are no FDA-approved treatments that specifically target the abnormal immune responses in MS. Current approaches, such as interferon, copaxone, or immune suppressants all act in a nonspecific manner blocking immune responses against the myelin sheath. While these approaches are useful for reducing the severity of disease, they do not repair the damage to nervous system tissue that has already occurred and therefore they cannot cure multiple sclerosis.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have immune regulatory properties which may stop the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath.

Mesenchymal stem cells may also potentially help remyelination (re-generation of the myelin sheath) of the affected neurons. Currently, the University of Cambridge is conducting formal clinical studies using mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of MS.

We published results from our phase 1/2 clinical trial in the March, 2018 edition of the Journal of Translational Medicine.  The name of the trial is “Clinical feasibility of umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of multiple sclerosis“.  

This study concluded that “…intravenous infusion of  [Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells] UCMSC over several days is safe in subjects with MS. Additionally, UCMSC infusions may hold benefits, since this small study group saw improvement in bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction, walking, upper extremity physical function, energy and fatigue, general perspective of a positive health change and improved quality of life, and MRI lesions…”

In addition to our recent clinical trial findings, we have observed similar types of improvements in multiple sclerosis patients treated at our facilities over the past 13 years.

The adult stem cells used to treat MS at the Stem Cell Institute come from human umbilical cord tissue (allogeneic mesenchymal). These stem cells are expanded at Medistem Panama’s state-of-the-art laboratory.

The mesenchymal stem cells we use are recovered from donated umbilical cords following normal, healthy births. Each mother has her medical history screened and is tested for infectious diseases. Proper consent is received from each family prior to donation.

All umbilical cord-derived stem cells are screened for infectious diseases to International Blood Bank Standards before they are cleared for use in patients.

Only a small percentage of donated umbilical cords pass our rigorous screening process.v

  • Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.
  • The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.
  • Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.
  • Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.
  • No need to collect stem cells from the patient’s hip bone or fat under anesthesia, which especially for small children and their parents, can be an unpleasant ordeal.
  • There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.
  • No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

Human umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that were isolated and grown in our laboratory in Panama to create master cell banks are currently being used in the United States under US FDA regulation.

These cells serve as the starting material for cellular products used in MSC clinical trials for two Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy patients under US FDA’s designation of Investigational New Drug (IND) for single patient compassionate use. (IND 16026 DMD Single Patient).v

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