FDA TRIAL INVERTS M. S. COURSE
Adult Stem Cell Treatment Reverses Multiple Sclerosis in Trial
The U.K. press is reporting encouraging results for the use of adult stem cells to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS)
The U.K. press is reporting encouraging results for the use of adult stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). "Remarkable" and "miraculous" are descriptions from some of the doctors who treated the patients, made detailed examinations of their progress, and scientifically validated the observations. The results are part of an FDA-approved, ongoing clinical trial, with collaborations between investigators in the U.S., U.K., Sweden and Brazil. The phase 3 trial originally started in 2006, and has been adding patients and observing results since that time.
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' adult stem cells were collected from bone marrow or blood, and then they received chemotherapy to kill the rogue immune cells. After this conditioning step, the patient’s adult stem cells were reinfused into their body and made their home in the bone marrow, where they produced fresh immune cells. The process acts to “reboot” the immune system.
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. However, 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 most recent update of the trial for relapsing-remitting MS, Steven Storey, a marathon runner who became wheelchair-bound and was virtually paralyzed talked about how four months of the treatment he could stand, and within ten months did a milelong 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.