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MS stem cell trial gets $1m donation

2nd June 2011

A major charitable donation will enable UK-based doctors to carry out a trial using stem cells on 80 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

Pound Coins

The research will take place at the Burden Neurological Institute based at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital and follows a donation of $1m, or just over £600,000, from the Silverman family foundation in America.

Those selected to take part in the trials will have their bone marrow harvested and filtered before being injected into their blood. Half of the group will have the injection immediately and the two groups will be compared after a year.

There are no ethical issues over the research as the cells come from the patients’ own body.

Earlier trials showed that such a procedure increased nerve function by up to 20% on MS patients.

Professor Neil Scolding, who leads the team, said: “When you inject these cells in to the bloodstream they do find their way into the brain and spinal cord.

“We know once they get there they are capable of encouraging repair of damage in a variety of ways.”

Dr Susan Kohlhaas from the MS Society said: “Stem cells hold promise as a potential treatment for MS so it’s great to see research is at the stage where these treatments can be tested in people with the condition. It’s exciting to see this work moving forward.”

MS affects an estimated 100,000 people in the UK and can lead to symptoms such as muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, loss of co-ordination and visual and speech difficulties.

 

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