MS Breakthrough; Patients Get Transplant of Own Stem Cells to Halt Progress of the Disease

By Chapman, James | Daily Mail (London), April 17, 2002 | Go to article overview
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MS Breakthrough; Patients Get Transplant of Own Stem Cells to Halt Progress of the Disease


Chapman, James, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: JAMES CHAPMAN

PATIENTS with multiple sclerosis have been treated with a revolutionary transplant of their own blood cells, doctors revealed yesterday.

The breakthrough centres on stem cells, the body's 'mother' cells which have the potential to turn into any kind of tissue.

It will be seized on by pro-life campaigners as highlighting the promise of adult stem cells as opposed to those taken from human embryos.

In the first procedures of their kind in the world, cells were removed from the bloodstreams of patients with MS and cultured in the laboratory.

Cells working against the body's immune system were destroyed and only healthy cells returned to the patients by injection.

More than a year on, the deterioration associated with severe MS had stopped in all of the 26 patients treated and six had made remarkable improvements.

The scientists behind the breakthrough stressed the treatment was still experimental and was unlikely to be widely available for several years.

But they said they believed they had made 'great progress' towards finding an effective new treatment for multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disorder of the central nervous system which affects 85,000 people in the UK.

The disease gradually wears away myelin, the tissue that protects nerves from damage. There is currently no cure.

Scientists around the world are working to find ways of producing 'spare-part' cells and tissue to treat diseases using both adult stem cells, which persist in blood, bone marrow and the brain, and stem cells from embryos, which are the richest source.

The MS breakthrough is the latest of a series in recent weeks involving adult stem cells which have cheered pro-life campaigners who object to embryo research.

Just last week, experts claimed they had successfully treated a man with Parkinson's disease using adult stem cells taken from his own brain.

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