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
[google_news title=”” keyword=”Curing multiple sclerosis” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Curing multiple sclerosis
- UdeM researchers find molecule to block multiple sclerosis progressionon November 13, 2019 at 5:35 pm
A team of researchers at the Université de Montréal has identified a potential drug target that could safely slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central ... ...
- Slowing the progression of multiple sclerosison November 13, 2019 at 11:03 am
Over 77,000 Canadians are living with multiple sclerosis, a disease whose causes still remain unknown. Presently, they have no hope for a cure. In a study published in Science Translational Medicine, ...
- Life With Multiple Sclerosison October 29, 2019 at 5:00 pm
The billionaire author and philanthropist J.K. Rowling has made another notable move to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
- What if I Were Cured of My Multiple Sclerosis?on October 8, 2019 at 5:00 pm
I have been waiting 33 years for some improvement in my multiple sclerosis (MS), but it is a runaway train that ... why would I shy away from a total cure? Because I would not know how to act in daily ...
- UVA researchers uncover key contributor to multiple sclerosison October 7, 2019 at 9:23 pm
Cells that scientists have largely ignored when studying multiple sclerosis are actually key contributors to ... avenues for devising treatments and is a vital step toward finding a cure. Scientists ...
- UVA Team Discovers Surprising Contributor to Multiple Sclerosison October 7, 2019 at 2:14 pm
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Neuroscientists at the University of Virginia are now a step closer to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS). A new study reveals that cells that had typically been ...
- Team discovers surprise contributor to multiple sclerosison October 7, 2019 at 9:18 am
Cells that scientists have largely ignored when studying multiple sclerosis are actually key contributors to ... avenues for devising treatments and is a vital step toward finding a cure. In MS, the ...
- Surprise contributor to multiple sclerosison October 7, 2019 at 9:18 am
The discovery suggests new avenues for devising treatments and is a vital step toward finding a cure. Cells that scientists have largely ignored when studying multiple sclerosis are actually key ...
- UVA discovers surprise contributor to multiple sclerosison October 7, 2019 at 8:49 am
"To come up with a cure, we have to target both aspects of the pathology ... grants R01 NS083542 and R21 NS111204; the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, grant PP1978; the UVA Double Hoo Research ...
- EMD Serono Initiates Pivotal Phase III Program for Investigational Evobrutinib in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosison September 10, 2019 at 5:06 am
As part of the company's commitment to patient-focused drug development, EMD Serono collaborated with the Accelerated Cure Project (ACP) for Multiple Sclerosis and its iConquerMS people-powered ...
via Bing News