For Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight a new study from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
They’ll be testing whether hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), the same kind of cells found in cord blood, will perform better than leading drugs in treating multiple sclerosis (MS), an immune disorder affecting more than 2.3 million people worldwide.1
A Brief History of Stem Cells and MS
HSCs have a long history of being studied for MS. And there’s a good amount of evidence to support their efficacy, too.
In fact, a 2017 analysis of 15 previously published studies involving 764 subjects found that, overall, stem cell transplants showed a significant benefit against disease activity and progression for certain patients with an aggressive form of MS.2
How Stem Cells Could Help3
While the specific cause of MS remains unknown, scientists believe it could be due to an immune system dysfunction that destroys the protective insulation (called myelin) coating nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.4 They hypothesize that a HSC transplant could help “reset the immune system” and stop or suppress further damage.
New Trial Starts Soon
Researchers are selecting 156 patients with a highly active form of MS that has not responded to drugs or other treatments. Patients will have their own stem cells collected and stored before undergoing intensive conditioning meant to remove the dysfunctional immune cells. Their stem cells will then be infused, generating a new, properly functioning immune system.
Neurologists will then periodically examine the participants and evaluate their level of disability over the next six years. They’ll also compare the developing immune systems of recipients of stem cell transplants with those of the participants who receive the drugs.
Translation: Stem cells will be facing off against prescription drugs in the treatment of MS.
“We hope that BEAT-MS will clarify the best way to treat people with relapsing MS,” said Jeffrey A. Cohen, M.D., a professor of neurology leading the trial.
This isn’t the first time we’ve reported on newborn stem cells’ potential to help treat diseases in different ways than prescription drugs. Last year, Heather Brown, Vice President of Clinical Innovation at CBR, told us that it was conceivable that one day stem cells could reduce the need for prescription drugs for certain conditions, because “while prescriptions only treat the symptoms of a condition, stem cells can help treat the root causes of conditions.”
Another Reason To Bank
Expecting families now have another reason to consider banking their baby’s cord blood, and those who have already banked have another reason to get excited about the future possibilities.
Expecting a child? Have friends or family who are expecting? Enroll with us today or log into your account for your unique referral code. When someone you refer banks with CBR, you’ll get one year of free cord blood storage—and they’ll receive special pricing on our cord blood and cord tissue bundle!
1. New multiple sclerosis treatment trial compares stem cell transplantation to best available drugs. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-multiple-sclerosis-treatment-trial-compares-stem-cell-transplantation-best-available-drugs. Published January 8, 2020. Accessed February 24, 2020.
2. Sormani MP, Muraro PA, Schiavetti I, et al. Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. https://n.neurology.org/content/88/22/2115.abstract. Published May 30, 2017. Accessed February 24, 2020.
3. Best Available Therapy Versus Autologous Hematopoetic Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Sclerosis (BEAT-MS) – Full Text View. Best Available Therapy Versus Autologous Hematopoetic Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Sclerosis (BEAT-MS) – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04047628. Accessed February 27, 2020.
4. Sharrack, B., Saccardi, R., Alexander, T. et al. Autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and other cellular therapy in multiple sclerosis and immune-mediated neurological diseases: updated guidelines and recommendations from the EBMT Autoimmune Diseases Working Party (ADWP) and the Joint Accreditation Committee of EBMT and ISCT (JACIE). Bone Marrow Transplant 55, 283–306 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41409-019-0684-0