Adult stem cell research has yielded yet another “miraculous result”, while embryonic stem cell researchers still seek the first.
The U.K. press are reporting heartening results for the use of adult stem cells to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), including descriptions of “remarkable”improvements and “miraculous” results. Yet this is not hype; these are descriptions from some of the doctors themselves, who treated the patients, made detailed examinations of their progress, and scientifically validated the observations.
The adult stem cell treatment procedure was developed by Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and is a variation of some standard cancer treatments. MS is an autoimmune condition, where some of the body’s immune cells have gone rogue and started to attack the body’s own nervous tissue, leading to the neurological symptoms seen with MS.
Patients have their adult stem cells collected from bone marrow or blood, then receive chemotherapy to kill the rogue immune cells. After this conditioning step, the patient’s adult stem cells are re-infused into their body and make their home in the bone marrow, where they produce fresh immune cells. The process acts to “reboot” the immune system. Dr. Burt had published promising results in 2009 from an early trial for patients with the relapsing-remitting form of MS.
In early 2015, the international group reported some of their own initial results with relapsing-remitting MS patients that were surprising. Not only did the adult stem cell reboot stop disease progression, but it actually reversed the neurological disability for many patients. As their peer-reviewed publication in JAMA noted, no FDA-approved therapy has reversed MS symptoms or improved quality of life for these patients. But the adult stem cell treatment which they administered improved the neurological condition of the patients, in some cases putting them into a remission from the MS. Dr. Burt noted that this is the only therapy to date shown to reverse neurologic deficits in relapsing-remitting MS.
A separate U.K. research team is testing the use of adult stem cells for progressive MS.