Transplanting stem cells from one’s own bone marrow (autologous stem cell transplants) improves the symptoms of muscular sclerosis (MS), and in some cases the neurological disease actually regressed. These are the encouraging results obtained from a small study performed on 21 remittent MS patients by a group from the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago and published in Lancet Neurology. “All of the patients,” said the neurologists, “witnessed an improvement in their conditions three years after the stem cell transplants were performed. Of these, 81pct benefited from visible progress, measured in terms of the scale of their disability.”
With these “encouraging” results, the researchers decided to perform another study involving more patients, and compared their results with traditional treatments. The experiment involved the removal and freezing of bone marrow after treating the marrow with drugs to remove the lymphocytes of the immune system which are responsible for attacking nerve system fibers in MS patients.
At the end of the process, doctors implanted stem cells, which proved to be able to give the MS patients a normally functioning immune system. The time factor, underlined neurologists, seems crucial in the efficiency for stem cells because “if we intervene quickly, we are able to exploit the body’s ability to repair itself, which in the long term is lost”. In any case, scientists say that “ it is not a definitive cure for muscular sclerosis”.