Image of family in hospital - stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis

Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is caused by an immune mediated attack targeting components of the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is known to act as an “insulator” for neurons so that they can communicate properly with each other.

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Can stem cells help treat multiple sclerosis?

At present there are no FDA-approved treatments that specifically target the abnormal immune responses in MS. Current approaches, such as interferon, copaxone, or immune suppressants all act in a nonspecific manner blocking immune responses against the myelin sheath. While these approaches are useful for reducing the severity of disease, they do not repair the damage to nervous system tissue that has already occurred and therefore they cannot cure multiple sclerosis.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have immune regulatory properties which may stop the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath.

Mesenchymal stem cells may also potentially help remyelination (re-generation of the myelin sheath) of the affected neurons. Currently, the University of Cambridge is conducting formal clinical studies using mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of MS.

We published results from our phase 1/2 clinical trial in the March, 2018 edition of the Journal of Translational Medicine.  The name of the trial is “Clinical feasibility of umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of multiple sclerosis“.  

This study concluded that “…intravenous infusion of  [Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells] UCMSC over several days is safe in subjects with MS. Additionally, UCMSC infusions may hold benefits, since this small study group saw improvement in bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction, walking, upper extremity physical function, energy and fatigue, general perspective of a positive health change and improved quality of life, and MRI lesions…”

In addition to our recent clinical trial findings, we have observed similar types of improvements in multiple sclerosis patients treated at our facilities over the past 13 years.

In a patient’s own words:

Which types of stem cells are used to treat multiple sclerosis and how are they collected?

The adult stem cells used to treat MS at the Stem Cell Institute come from human umbilical cord tissue (allogeneic mesenchymal). These stem cells are expanded at Medistem Panama’s state-of-the-art laboratory.

The mesenchymal stem cells we use are recovered from donated umbilical cords following normal, healthy births. Each mother has her medical history screened and is tested for infectious diseases. Proper consent is received from each family prior to donation.

All umbilical cord-derived stem cells are screened for infectious diseases to International Blood Bank Standards before they are cleared for use in patients.

Only a small percentage of donated umbilical cords pass our rigorous screening process.

Dr. Riordan on the Umbilical Cord Selection Process at Stem Cell Institute

“Through retrospective analysis of our cases, we’ve identified proteins and genes that allow us to screen several hundred umbilical cord donations to find the ones that we know are most effective. We only use these cells and we call them ‘golden cells™’.

We go through a very high throughput screening process to find cells that we know have the best anti-inflammatory activity, the best immune modulating capacity, and the best ability to stimulate regeneration.”

Learn more about Golden Cells™

What are the advantages of treating multiple sclerosis with allogeneic umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells?

  • Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.

  • The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.

  • Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.

  • Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.

  • No need to collect stem cells from the patient’s hip bone or fat under anesthesia, which especially for small children and their parents, can be an unpleasant ordeal.

  • There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.

  • No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

  • Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.

  • The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.

  • Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.

  • Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.

  • No need to collect stem cells from the patient’s hip bone or fat under anesthesia, which especially for small children and their parents, can be an unpleasant ordeal.

  • There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.

  • No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

Read the entire chapter on stem cell therapy for MS from Dr. Riordan’s book

Image of Book Cover for Stem Cell Thearpy - Rising Tide

For more detailed information about our MS treatments, we welcome you to read/download the entire chapter on stem cell therapy for MS from Dr. Riordan’s new book, Stem Cell Therapy: A Rising Tide – How Stem Cells are Disrupting Medicine and Transforming Lives.  CLICK HERE (FREE PDF)

“Neil takes readers on a riveting journey through the past, present and future of stem cell therapy. His well-researched, educational and entertaining book could change your life. I highly recommend it.”Tony Robbins, NY Times #1 Bestselling Author

“100 years old will soon become the new 60. Stem cells are a key therapeutic to enable this future. Dr. Riordan’s book is your guide to why this is true and how you will benefit. A must read for anyone who cares about extending their healthy lifespan.”Peter H. Diamandis, MD; Founder, XPRIZE & Singularity University; Co-Founder, Human Longevity, Inc.; Author of NY Times Best Sellers Abundance and Bold

Our mesenchymal stem cells and the US FDA: Are they approved?

Human umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that were isolated and grown in our laboratory in Panama to create master cell banks are currently being used in the United States under US FDA regulation.

These cells serve as the starting material for cellular products used in MSC clinical trials for two Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy patients under US FDA’s designation of Investigational New Drug (IND) for single patient compassionate use. (IND 16026 DMD Single Patient).

Will the patient reject this type of stem cell?

The body’s immune system is unable to recognize umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells as foreign and therefore they are not rejected. HUCT stem cells have been administered thousands of times at the Stem Cell Institute and there has never been a single instance rejection (graft vs. host disease).  As a matter of fact, allogeneic (not the patient’s own) mesenchymal stem cells are approved to treat graft vs. host disease in Canada and New Zealand.

Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells also proliferate/differentiate more efficiently than “older” cells, such as those found in the fat and therefore, they are considered to be more “potent”.

In the words of an expert:

In this next video (just past the 1 minute mark), Arnold Caplan, PhD explains the mechanism by which donor mesenchymal stem cells shield themselves from the recipient’s immune system. Dr. Caplan is the scientist who discovered the mesenchymal stem cell. He is commonly referred to as “the father of the mesenchymal stem cell”.