[Editor] Adult stem cell therapies have produced startling success stories for more than a million people over the last decade. Embryonic stem cell therapies? Nada.
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. The team, led by Dr. Neil J. Scolding at the University of Bristol, had previously published promising results from a preliminary safety trial in the use of a patient’s own bone marrow adult stem cells for MS. In 2015, they published the design of an expanded clinical trial with potential to treat progressive MS. The FDA-approved phase 2 trial, which differs from the relapsing-remitting trial in that no chemotherapy conditioning is used, is currently recruiting patients.
In the current update of the trial for relapsing-remitting MS, the patients are the stars. Patients such as Steven Storey, a marathon runner who became wheelchair-bound and virtually paralyzed. He tells how four months after the treatment he could stand, and within ten months did a mile-long swim and could walk again. Another patient, Holly Drewry, also became wheelchair-bound from her MS. She started to notice changes in her strength just days after her treatment, and soon walked out of the hospital.
Adult stem cells are the gold standard for patients, providing ethical, successful stem cell treatments. Over a million people around the globe have now received validated adult stem cell therapies, and the number is multiplying rapidly. You can see more patient stories at StemCellResearchFacts.org.