There are about 400,000 people in the United States, roughly 2.5 million worldwide,
that have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). MS can interfere with the person’s ability to touch, see, walk, or even move. The treatment options for MS are available to help manage symptoms of infected individuals, but treatments to help cure the individual is not a readily available option – but Canadian researchers are making progress in this area.
A Canadian study was published last week in a British medical journal that showed positive results for curing select individuals of MS. The results reflect that 5% of individuals affected with MS could react positively to the treatment and have a reversal of many of the MS symptoms. The procedure that is used on the patient involves both stem cells and chemotherapy. The doctor will administer a drug to the MS patient that causes the stem cells in their bone marrow to move into their bloodstream. Then, the doctor extracts the stem cells and processes them in the lab to purify them. After the stem cells are extracted, the patient will undergo chemotherapy to wipe out their immune system. Once the patient’s immune system is rebuilt, the doctors can inject the purified stem cells back into the patient’s blood stream. Patients that react positively to this treatment will see a return of functions that were taken away by the disease, and essentially be cured of the disease altogether.
Even though this treatment plan will only help about 5% of the MS affected individuals, it is a bright start to understanding how to treat the remaining 95%.