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Stem cell trials may spell the end for MS
by Miriam Stoppard, Daily Mirror 30/08/2011
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A very important study into the use of stem cells is about to begin in several countries, including the UK.
It will examine using them to treat multiple sclerosis but could have implications for many other conditions, including Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease, type 1 diabetes, heart problems and rheumatoid arthritis.
In fact, this study, which will run over the next three to five years, could be the blueprint for the wider use of stem cells.
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Scientists are hoping to show that stem cell replacement of diseased tissues can slow, stop or even reverse damage caused by the underlying disease.
There are two reasons why I attach so much importance to this project.
Firstly, this is the first time that researchers from around the world have come together to test stem cell therapies in such a large-scale trial, which would be impossible to run in just one location.
It is essential that researchers work together if they are going to make progress and improve stem cell treatment.
The second reason is that the effectiveness of stem cells will be subject to rigorous testing in patients, which will break new ground.
Two main types of stem cells have been tried. In the early days embryonic cells were used, but these were controversial because of where they came from – namely aborted or miscarried embryos.
Later we learned that we have stem cells in our bodies and this adult type can be used as effectively without controversy.
Stem cells hold so much promise. While they are primitive, if given a little nudge, they can turn into any and all of the tissues in the body that might get injured or become diseased.
In this new study the cells will be harvested from the patient’s bone marrow and then grown in a laboratory before being injected directly into the bloodstream.
The theory is that these stem cells will target the damaged protective covering around nerves, called myelin, which becomes scarred in MS sufferers.
This isn’t the first time stem cells have been used with the condition. In 2009, researchers in the US found they could improve symptoms of MS by using cells from fat.
The encouraging part of this research was the symptoms continued to improve almost a year after the stem cells were injected, giving us the hope of a long-lasting effect.
Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice/miriam/2011/08/30/stem-cell-trials-may-spell-the-end-for-ms-115875-23381723/#ixzz1WWVlRGe1
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