Stem cells are starting to prove their value as medical treatments
THIRTY years ago a young haematologist called Richard Burt was training at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. He noticed that after leukaemia patients had received a treatment to wipe out their immune systems, they needed to be re-immunised against diseases such as measles and mumps. Although the patients in question had been vaccinated as children, the therapy for their blood cancer had erased this cellular memory. Dr Burt turned to his teacher, William Burns, and ask whether the same might be possible in autoimmune diseases. “I could see a light go on in his eyes. ‘You should try it in multiple sclerosis’ he said.” Thus began decades of painstaking work.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) happens when the body’s immune system learns to attack its own nerve fibres in the same way that it learns to attack invading pathogens. Nobody really understands what causes this misplaced learning. But Dr Burt’s idea did not depend on knowing that. He just wanted to wipe the memory out, in the way that the memory of a vaccination is wiped out by chemotherapy. By 2009 Dr Burt, now at Northwestern University, in Chicago, had proved that his treatment worked in patients with the most common form of the disease, relapsing remitting MS. The treatment involves using lower-dose chemotherapy to kill the white blood cells that are responsible for attacking nerve fibres, and then rebooting the immune system using stem cells collected from the patient before treatment began.
Stem cells are the source from which more specialised cells develop. Those found in bone marrow, known as hematopoietic stem cells, produce the many different cells found in blood, including the white cells implicated in MS. In Dr Burt’s therapy such stem cells are extracted from a patient, stored until after the chemotherapy, and then infused back into him. Ten days later, he can go home.
It is effective. Although there is a relapse rate of around 10% within five years, many who have been treated in randomised trials in Brazil, Britain and Sweden feel as though they have been cured. Proving they actually have been means waiting for the results of the trials, and watching how participants fare over many years. Already patients have been seen to improve for two years after treatment.
This work should give drug companies some pause for thought.
Read more: Curing multiple sclerosis
The Latest on: Curing multiple sclerosis
via Google News
The Latest on: Curing multiple sclerosis
We find it difficult to make people understand multiple sclerosis, says Jyoti Ronghe
on May 19, 2019 at 4:48 am
World Multiple Sclerosis Day will be observed on May 30 ... but can be diagnosed only through a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There is no treatment or cure for it. It is treated symptomatically. ... […]
Nature’s pharmacy: The remarkable plants of the Amazon rainforest – and what they may cure
on May 19, 2019 at 3:07 am
Amazonian people use its roots to cure everything from rheumatism and toothaches to ... the alkaloid d-turbocuarine has been isolated from the deadly plant and used to treat multiple sclerosis, ... […]
US Army soldier battling multiple sclerosis
on May 17, 2019 at 6:11 pm
The event is designed to raise awareness and money to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. It’s also an opportunity to honor the “MS warriors” and their families who battle this every day. ... […]
Deadly Arizona Doc Hawks Bogus Stem Cell Treatment
on May 17, 2019 at 8:45 am
Their reporting uncovered an industry brimming with false claims exalting stem cells as a cure-all for everything from Alzheimer's to multiple sclerosis, sketchy doctors with checkered pasts, and an ... […]
Zimmerman’s “A Night at the Park” raises $300,000 to fight multiple sclerosis
on May 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm
Ryan Zimmerman hasn’t stopped raising money to support research toward a cure for multiple sclerosis, and Monday’s 10th edition of “A Night at the Park,” his annual fundraiser, added approximately ... […]
Ryan Zimmerman's foundation held its 10th annual 'A Night at the Park' to fight Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
on May 14, 2019 at 2:45 pm
When Ryan Zimmerman's mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1995 ... The foundation is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of MS by funding comprehensive support and ... […]
Life-changing drug for people with Multiple Sclerosis approved by health chiefs
on May 13, 2019 at 8:43 am
This month, the first and only treatment for patients with the most debilitating form of Multiple Sclerosis has been approved by health ... Jon Jeffery was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS. There ... […]
Search on for MS cure
on May 11, 2019 at 11:59 pm
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of ... During the lecture, Soto, a neurologist, said the disease has no known cause or cure. He added that diagnosis is only done ... […]
He pioneered technology that fueled the Human Genome Project. Now his greatest challenge is curing his own son
on May 11, 2019 at 10:52 pm
Multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects fewer patients than ME ... making Davis unique among living scientists in his ability to coordinate the discovery of a cure. But to make the kind of progress ... […]
Walk to cure multiple sclerosis returns to the area
on May 11, 2019 at 8:04 pm
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) --The community came out to help bring awareness to multiple sclerosis. Many teamed up to walk for their friends or loved ones affected by MS. There was a one mile and a three ... […]
via Bing News