Stem cells & MS – research update

Hey there!

here is an ‘update’ (as always from Medical News Today) on the stem cells post I posted on February 9th this year.


Bone marrow stem cell transplants used to reset the immune system and reverse the symptoms of MS!! The researchers claim that this additional piece of research provides another piece of evidence on what stems cells might one day do with regards to therapies and treatments for MS.


Some 81 percent of patients in the early phase study showed signs of improvement with the treatment, which used chemotherapy to destroy the immune system, and injections of the patient’s bone marrow cells taken beforehand to rebuild it. “We just start over with new cells from the stem cells,” said Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University in Chicago, whose study appears in the journal Lancet Neurology. 


Burt said the approach — called autologous non-myeloablative hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation — is a bit gentler than the therapy used in cancer patients because rather than destroying the entire bone marrow, it attacks just the immune system component of the marrow, making it less toxic. Burt and colleagues tried the treatment on 21 patients aged 20 to 53 with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, an earlier stage in the disease in which symptoms come and go. Patients in the study were not helped by at least six months of standard treatment with interferon beta. After an average follow-up of about three years, 17 patients improved by at least one measure on a disability scale, and the disease stabilized in all patients. Patients continued to improve for up to 24 months after the transplant procedure, and then stabilized. Many had improvements in walking, vision, incontinence and limb strength.


“To date, all therapies for MS have been designed and approved because they slowed the rate of neurological decline. None of them has ever reversed neurological dysfunction, which is what this has done,” Burt said. 


It needs to be noted that the study however is under way and additional research needs to be done.


Post-partum breast feeding & MS

From: Medical News Today 09.06.09 & 12.06.09.


Women with multiple sclerosis who breastfeed exclusively for at least two months appear less likely to experience a relapse within a year after their baby’s birth, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the August print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.


Researchers found that women who breastfed their babies exclusively (without giving supplemental bottles) for at least the first two months post-partum were less likely to have an MS relapse than those who did not breastfeed or who did not breastfeed exclusively during the first two months (36% who breastfed exclusively experienced a relapse, as compared to 87% who did not breastfeed or who supplemented with formula).

While the study is small, it focuses attention on a quandary facing women with MS and their doctors: the crucial time period after giving birth, when there is a higher risk for relapse, and many women are advised to go back on their disease-modifying therapies as soon as possible. Since there is insufficient evidence to support the safety of breastfeeding while using any of these therapies, most babies born to moms with MS are bottle fed, despite known health benefits of breastfeeding for infants. More research is needed to help guide postpartum treatment decisions.


For more information follow “Medical News Today” under links.

Hydrangea root treatment for MS & other autoimmune diseases

This is another promising study for the treatment of MS published in Medical News Today (June 5&6 2009):

US researchers found that a drug made from the root of the hydrangea plant, which has for centuries been used in Chinese medicine, showed promising results in treating autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, eczema and psoriasis.


In this study, the authors report how a small molecule called halofuginone (extracted from hydrangea root) selectively stops Th17 cells being made, without affecting the other CD4+ T cells, thus showing how it might be possible to stop the immune system from over-producing harmful Th17 cell responses.

They also showed that halofuginone reduced disease symptoms in mice bred with autoimmune disorders.


In this study the researchers appear to have found a way, using halofuginone as the fine tuning tool, to selectively reduce production of Th17 cells and thereby only switching off the inflammatory response without altering the function of other parts of the immune system. The other good thing about this discovery is that halofuginone can be taken by mouth: no injection necessary.

For complete details on this study visit the source under links.

best and keep it up! :o)