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MS stem cell trial begins

29th July 2011

More than 150 patients are set to be involved in a major clinical trial to investigate whether stem cells can be safely used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

stem cell research

The trial, due to start later this year, has been part-funded by the UK-based MS Society.

There are hopes that stem cells can be used eventually to slow, stop or even reverse the damage MS causes to the brain and spinal cord.

Dr Paolo Muraro from Imperial College London said: “There is very strong pre-clinical evidence that stem cells might be an effective treatment.”

Under the trial, involving patients across Europe, scientists will collect stem cells from the bone marrow of patients, grow them in the laboratory and then re-inject them into their blood with the hope they will make their way to the brain and repair the damage caused by MS.

At present there is no proven stem cell therapy available for MS anywhere in the world but the MS Society hopes these new trials will eventually lead to a proven treatment.

Dr Doug Brown, of the MS Society, said: “These experiments have confirmed that these stem cells hold that potential - but these need to be confirmed in large scale clinical trials.”

As well as the Imperial College study, the MS Society is also funding two other stem cell studies; one, based at Queen Mary Hospital, London and the other, at the University of Nottingham.

Worldwide, some three million people are thought to be affected by MS and up to 100,000 in the UK.

 

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