Stem cell transplant reverses early MS

EVANSTON, Ill., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. medical scientists say they have used stem cell therapy to apparently reverse the neurological dysfunctions caused by early-stage multiple sclerosis.

Researchers from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine said they transplanted early-stage multiple sclerosis patients' own immune stem cells into the patients' bodies, thereby "resetting" their immune systems.


"This is the first time we have turned the tide on this disease," said Dr. Richard Burt, who led the study at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Burt said the patients in the small phase I/II trial continued to improve for up to 24 months after the transplantation procedure and then stabilized. The researchers said the patients experienced improvements in areas in which they had been affected by multiple sclerosis including walking, ataxia, limb strength, vision and incontinence.

In previous studies, Burt transplanted immune stem cells into late-stage MS patients.

"It didn't help in the late stages, but when we treat them in the early stage, they get better and continue to get better," he said, adding, "What we did is promising and exciting, but we need to prove it in a randomized trial."


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