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Positive Results Reported from a Phase 2 Trial of Stem Cell Therapy

December 23, 2020

A team from Israel’s Hadassah University Hospital has published results from a phase 2 clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy in active, progressive MS. “Mesenchymal stem cells” are adult stem cells found in several places in the body, including the bone marrow, skin and fat tissue. Participants were 48 people with progressive MS with moderate to more severe disability.

There were three study groups. One group was treated with cells administered into the vein (intravenous), one group was administered cells into the spinal fluid (intrathecal), and one group received sham treatment. After 6 months, those on sham treatment received active cells, and the other groups received a second dose of active cells or sham treatment. All participants were monitored with various measures to try to detect a benefit and safety, and to find the best route for administering these cells. The cells appeared to be well tolerated, with no serious adverse events linked to treatment.

Significantly fewer participants experienced disability progression in the treatment groups compared with the sham group. Several measures, including relapse rate, improved significantly more in the intrathecal group.  The authors suggest that a phase 3 trial is warranted to further test the safety and effectiveness of this therapy in larger numbers of people with MS.

“Beneficial effects of autologous mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in active progressive multiple sclerosis,” by Panayiota Petrou, Ibrahim Kassis, Netta Levin, Friedemann Paul, Yael Backner, Tal Benoliel, Frederike Cosima Oertel, Michael Scheel, Michelle Hallimi, Nour Yaghmour, Tamir Ben Hur, Ariel Ginzberg, Yarden Levy, Oded Abramsky, and Dimitrios Karussis, was published November 30, 2020 in the journal Brain.

Read more from Hadassah

Read about more mesenchymal stem cell studies

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Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

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