02 February 2009

Autologous Stem Cells Hold Most Promise in MS

Medical scientists are learning how to use autologous stem cells -- a person's own stem cells -- to treat serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (MS). A recent study at Northwestern University demonstrates an ingenious approach to the use of autologous stem cells:
In clinical trials, a team of scientists led by Richard Burt of Northwestern University in Chicago essentially rebuilt the immune system of 21 adults – 11 women and 10 men – who had failed to respond to standard drug treatments.

First they removed defective white blood cells that, rather than protecting the body, attacks the fatty sheath, called myelin, that protects the nervous system.

The immune systems were then replenished with so-called haemopoeitic stem cells – extracted from the patient's bone marrow – capable of giving rise to any form of mature blood cell.

....After an average follow-up period of three years, 17 of the 21 patients improved by at least one point on a standard disability scale, and none had a final score lower than before the stem cell transplant. _Cosmos
The ability to not only stabilise, but to actually reverse symptoms of advanced MS using autologous cells, is encouraging. Autologous cell therapies are preferred over cell transplants from donors or ESCs, due to the virtual absence of immune system rejection. That is why the new methods of inducing pluripotent stem cells from adult cells such as skin cells, will almost certainly be the preferred method of future medical rejuvenative and regenerative cell and (grown) organ replacement therapies.

Lancet article

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