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Breakthrough study shows great promise

Stem Cell Transplantation: It’s Time!  

Three Australian scientists from Monash University, Dr Christopher Siatskas, Natalie Payne and Prof Claude Bernard, provide commentary on the development of a recent consensus statement from world experts on stem cells for the treatment of MS:

MS is a neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord. The disease is characterized by inflammation, demyelination and clinical relapses. Current therapeutic interventions for MS reduce the inflammation but have little effect on the underlying neurodegeneration that usually leads to increasing disability over the long term.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which are endowed with potent properties to influence and protect the immune system have recently emerged as promising opportunity for the treatment of MS. Early tests in experimental models have shown that MSCs can suppress MS to limit CNS inflammation, stimulate neuron growth, protect specific parts of a neuron called the axon and promote remyelination.

Importantly, transplantation with MSCs have been well tolerated by patients with few significant adverse effects. On the basis of these results, new, multicentre clinical trials have been launched overseas to assess the safety and efficacy of MSCs for inflammatory MS.

Thus it comes as no surprise that the coalescence of an international group of experts have convened to generate a consensus guide for the transplantation of bone marrow-derived MSC which, in time, may set the foundation for the next generation of therapies for the treatment of MS.

Source: Stem Cell Rev. 2010 Jul 28, Siatskas C, Payne NL, Short MA, Bernard CC

Natalie Payne is a Postgraduate Research Scholar funded by the Trish Foundation.  

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