September 12, 2014
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Saturday, September 13, 2014
Early Cleveland Clinic trial of stem cells for multiple sclerosis shows promise
September 12, 2014
CLEVELAND, Ohio — An early clinical trial testing the use of a patient's own stem cells to treat, or even reverse, multiple sclerosis has shown some positive results, Cleveland Clinic researchers reported this week.
The Phase 1 trial, unique in the United States, tested the safety and feasibility of treating MS patients with a dose of their own adult mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs. Found in the bone marrow, MSCs are being tested in more than 150 clinical trials in the U.S. and abroad as a way to treat a variety of other conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, emphysema and stroke.
Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, director of the Clinic's Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research, presented the findings at the MSBoston2014 convention, which opened Wednesday in Boston.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheaths that surround and protect nerve cells. When myelin is damaged, the nerve cells are exposed and unable to do their job, which is sending signals to the brain and back. This results in the loss of motor skills, coordination and cognitive abilities.
Cohen worked with a team at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University on the trial, which completed when the last patient finished the protocol in January. A total of 24 patients with relapsing forms of MS received injections of their own MSCs, which were harvested at UH, carefully cultivated in a special laboratory at CWRU and then injected intravenously back into the patient at the Clinic.
"We really encountered no practical issues and there really were no safety issues," said Cohen, noting the concern that experimental MS treatments can sometimes trigger relapse.
While the study was not designed to measure for benefit — it did not have a comparison group and involved a small group of patients — Cohen said the researchers were encouraged by what they saw.
"We didn't see any dramatic changes in anybody, but looking at the results as a whole there really were some encouraging trends, which is really as much as you hope to see in this kind of study," he said.
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