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Blog / Stem Cells

Stem Cell Therapy, A New Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough in 2021?

Stem cell therapy may be able to positively impact Multiple Sclerosis patients. Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system, both of which may be extremely beneficial for MS patients.

Updated:

June 28, 2021

David Lyons

Guest contributor

Jun 28, 2021

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director | DVC Stem

Stem cell therapy may be able to positively impact Multiple Sclerosis patients. Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system, both of which may be extremely beneficial for MS patients.

Stem cell therapy for MS

Stem cell therapy, specifically the administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for Multiple Sclerosis has demonstrated great potential to help improve symptoms and stabilize condition progression.  The immunomodulatory (ability to regulate the immune system), tissue-protective and repair-promoting properties of MSCs demonstrated in multiple models make them an attractive therapy for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other conditions characterized by inflammation and/or tissue injury.  

MS Patients may be able to expect an increase in energy, flexibility, strength, mobility, and control of basic function.  Data is also beginning the show that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) administered intravenously may have the ability to halt disease progression for an extended period. (2) 

Pictured: Mindmap showing the potential benefits of stem cell therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system. (1) Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that causes issues with vision, balance, coordination, muscle control, and other basic body functions. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can affect your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves in your eyes.

The effects are different for each person, some have mild symptoms while others may have quite severe symptoms that can prevent them from completing daily tasks.

MS is induced by an autoimmune issue that causes the patient's immune system to attack the myelin sheath, a fatty material that surrounds the nerve fibers to protect them. Without this protective outer layer, the nerve cells become vulnerable to damage, resulting in scar tissue. This damage prevents the brain from sending signals throughout the body resulting in a loss of strength, control, and sensation.

As a result, people experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble walking
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Drop foot
  • Muscle weakness or spasms

What age group is typically affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms typically start between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. People can have relapses (periods of worsening symptoms) and periods of recovery where symptoms feel as if they are getting better. For most people, as the disease progresses, symptoms will get worse over time. There have been promising studies showing the efficacy of stem cell therapy and its ability to improve symptoms and even halt disease progression. (This will be explained further below)

What causes Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Scientists still do not know exactly what causes Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but several factors seem to make the disease more likely, including; smoking and certain genetic factors. Certain viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus or the Human Herpesvirus 6 which both have immunosuppressive properties may also trigger the disease or cause a relapse. Scientists are currently studying the link between viruses and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but have yet to publish any conclusive data confirming the link.

Is there a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Currently, there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but there are several treatments that can be prescribed that can manage the symptoms of MS. Unfortunately, these treatments can be quite expensive and can reach upwards of $100,000 a year for the newest MS drugs.

Stem cell treatment for MS

Stem cell treatment for MS has demonstrated healing and repair-promoting properties. The use of expanded cord tissue-derived umbilical cord cells has made it possible to potentially treat MS more effectively. 

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can combat inflammation within the body. Once administered stem cells will work to help regulate the immune system and prevent further myelin degradation. This makes mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) an attractive therapy for MS and other conditions characterized by inflammation and/or tissue injury. 

Pictured: Infographic showing the different abilities of MSCs


Phase II double-blind trial shows amazing results for MS patients

A recent phase II double-blind trial, randomized and controlled by placebo study of 48 patients conducted in Isreal has found that mesenchymal stem cell therapy was able to improve MS symptoms in roughly 73% of participants while disease progression was completely halted in roughly 60% of participants. (2)


According to Dr. Ibrahim Kassis:


“Some patients stopped using a walker or a stick, and some others increased the distance they can walk”

The study evaluated treatment success by measuring participant's Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS scores before and after treatment.  The study concluded that the mean EDSS score improved in the group treated with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)


"The mean EDSS score deteriorated in the sham-treated group and was improved in the MSC-IT and MSC-IV groups during both treatment cycles (= 0.0002 and = 0.007, respectively, versus sham treatment; Mann-Whitney test) (Fig. 2 and Table 3). Two patients showed improvement in EDSS during the first cycle of treatment with MSC-IT and 11 during the second cycle (ranging from 0.5 to 1.0 degrees). The respective numbers of patients with improvement in the MSC-IV group were three and six in the two cycles; one patient showed improvement in the sham treatment group (Table 4)." (2)


The study revealed positive results in all predefined primary endpoints. No serious, treatment-related adverse effects were observed, and significantly fewer patients in the MSC-IT and MSC-IV groups experienced treatment failure. (2)

One of the researchers in this study, Petrou et al states:


"Overall, the robust effects of MSC transplantation on various parameters that reflect neurological dysfunction and especially on multiple sclerosis activity may indicate the involvement of (central and peripheral) immunomodulatory and possibly also neuroprotective mechanisms.

These benefits seem to be of particular clinical significance, as they were observed in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis unresponsive to conventional immunotherapies, and for which limited treatment options exist."

This study found that mesenchymal stem cell transplantation did have an immunomodulatory effect that positively impacted the MS patients in the study.  


Stem cells and MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) with a strong degenerative component, leading to irreversible disability. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to prevent inflammation and neurodegeneration in MS.

"Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are stromal [precursor] cells residing in many tissues, including the bone marrow (BM), where they support hematopoiesis. Treatment with MSC improves the course of the preclinical model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) when administered at early stages. In EAE, MSC has a profound anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effect [59], but they also exhibit neuroprotective features and foster remyelination endogenous neurogenesis with scarce evidence of differentiation in neural cells" - Antonio Uccelli

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have immune regulatory properties that may have the ability to prevent the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers. Mesenchymal stem (MSCs) cells may have the ability to regenerate scar tissue (damaged myelin sheath) of the affected neurons. (also called remyelination)

Stem cell replacement to help Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

The adult stem cells that are used at DVC Stem are sourced from ethically donated full-term human umbilical cord tissue (Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells). The tissue is only sourced from the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and cultured and expanded in our FDA 351 & 361 compliant, IRB approved, partner lab Vitro Biopharma, located in Golden Colorado, USA. This is to ensure that all human umbilical cord tissue is screened and tested for infectious disease as well as make sure the expansion process of the cells follows US safety standards.

MS stem cell treatment cost

Learn more about the cost of stem cell treatment for MS at DVC Stem here.

Stem cell Multiple Sclerosis (MS) treatment advantages

  • A growing amount of evidence supporting the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to help regulate the immune system
  • Ability to repair damaged myelin sheath (remyelination) or neurons
  • Umbilical cord tissue provides a high number of mesenchymal cells
  • Stem cells are extremely anti-inflammatory allowing for the repair and regeneration of tissue
  • IV stem cell therapy is NOT invasive and does not require any downtime
  • Reduction of debilitating MS symptoms
  • Overall stabilization of the condition, or extended periods of remission

How does HSCT differ from mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT)?

Many peer-reviewed studies over the years have found that mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) has strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties. The intravenous administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can improve the healing of neural, renal, and lung injuries in many different models. (7) Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) also can induce large periods of remission and may help improve MS symptoms including; loss of strength, mobility, flexibility, numbness, and overall mobility.

The two treatment options (HSCT & MSCT) aim to achieve the same outcome: prevent relapses, new MRI lesions, and improve disability.

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) aims to prevent relapses, new MRI lesions, and improve disability without the need for invasive cytotoxic immunosuppression therapy (Chemotherapy). MSCT can reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system, both of which play a strong role in helping improve MS symptoms and promote disease remission.

According to a recent study published by Regmi and colleagues:

"The immunosuppressive activities of MSCs are initiated by cell-to-cell contact and the release of immunoregulatory molecules. By doing so, MSCs can inhibit the proliferation and function of T cells, natural killer cells, B cells, and dendritic cells, and can also increase the proliferation of regulatory T cells." (5)

Choose the treatment that is right for you

Results for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants (HSCT) have been mostly positive for autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, in which the immune system attacks a patient’s body. The treatment “resets” the immune system, hoping to cease the effects of the disorder. However, many patients may be turned off by the use of chemotherapy and the inherent risks associated with such aggressive treatment. Some patients may be in too poor a condition to even attempt this form of treatment. Although safety has dramatically improved with experience, HSCT initially had a 1 in 100 death rate for participants.

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) is a much less invasive and radical procedure, having little impact on the patient. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) gives patients an option for effective treatment without the risk of chemotherapy, or who may be in too poor a condition to undergo Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants HSCT. Additionally, the non-invasive nature of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy (MSCT) allows for repeat treatment over time without continuous damage being done to the body.

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) and HSCT are very different procedures. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) should generally be considered a form of high dose immunosuppressive therapy with hematopoietic stem cell support. Rather than an alternative type of stem cell therapy. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy has shown similar outcomes to HSCT without the need for aggressive cytotoxic drugs (Chemotherapy). It is also important to note that cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cell therapy has shown the ability to avoid a negative response from a person’s immune system, allowing the cells to be transplanted in a wide range of people without fear of rejection. These transplants vastly increase the body’s natural healing abilities and have potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive responses.  


So does the immune system need to be destroyed to effectively help neurological conditions such as MS?

No, it does not. Published studies have found that Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSCT) can reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system, without the need for invasive immunosuppressive treatments (chemotherapy).  Mesenchymal stem cells also offer intrinsic benefits that hematopoietic stem cells do not, such as the ability to differentiate into a variety of cell types, release of immunoregulatory molecules, promote the release of exosome and growth factors.


Are stem cells safe?

Umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells do not have any risk of rejection within the body. They are youthful, immune-privileged, undifferentiated cells. There are no blood products associated with this type of MSC either, removing the need for a donor match, they are universally accepted. These cells simply seek out inflammation in the body and begin to heal the damaged tissue. 

Mesenchymal cord tissue-derived stem cells have been administered thousands of times at clinics around the world and there have never been any recorded instances of rejection (graft vs. host disease).

Benefits of stem cell therapy for MS

​Other potential advantages of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for people with MS include the injected cells' ability to move from the bloodstream to areas of injured tissues, allowing for a comfortable IV administration of these cells into the body. The stem cells will then be attracted to those areas of injury or inflammation and begin the process of differentiation to begin the healing process. Stem cell transplants for MS are generally less invasive, have shorter recovery times, and lasting healing effects on the body.


Want to learn more about stem cell therapy for MS at DVC Stem?

DVC Stem is a stem cell therapy pioneer, offering stem cell therapies for years and has become a cornerstone of the medical tourism industry. Located in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman in the Western Caribbean, we offer patients a nearby alternative to traveling long distances and to less ideal locations. Our protocols are IRB approved, and our cells come from regulated, US-based, FDA-compliant laboratories. We seek to offer the highest quality products, the latest available treatments for a variety of conditions, all combined with a world-class setting and service. We administer over 300 million cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells via IV, our treatments are minimally invasive and we offer interest-free financing for US residents.

Find out if you are eligible for stem cell therapy at DVC Stem

References: 

(1) J Liang, H. (n.d.). Allogeneic mesenchymal stem CELLS transplantation in the treatment of multiple sclerosis - J Liang, H Zhang, B Hua, H Wang, J wang, z Han, L Sun, 2009. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1352458509104590

(2) Petrou, P., Kassis, I., Levin, N., Paul, F., Backner, Y., Benoliel, T., . . . Karussis, D. (2020, November 30). Beneficial effects of autologous mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in active progressive multiple sclerosis. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/143/12/3574/6012789?login=true

(3) V; U. (n.d.). Mesenchymal stem cells in health and disease. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19172693/

(4) Uccelli, A., Laroni, A., Brundin, L., Clanet, M., Fernandez, O., Nabavi, S., . . . MESEMS study group. (2019, May 9). Mesenchymal stem cells for multiple SCLEROSIS (MESEMS): A Randomized, double-blind, CROSS-OVER Phase I/ii clinical trial WITH autologous mesenchymal stem cells for the therapy of multiple sclerosis. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6507027/#CR5

(5) Shobha Regmi, Shiva Pathak, Jong Oh Kim, Chul Soon Yong, Jee-Heon Jeong, Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the treatment of inflammatory diseases: Challenges, opportunities, and future perspectives, European Journal of Cell Biology, Volume 98, Issues 5–8, 2019, 151041, ISSN 0171-9335, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcb.2019.04.002. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0171933519300378

"Dr. Cona is a leading edge stem cell treatment physician"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 DAYS POST TREATMENT

"Is the video I posted from this morning! My speech is so easy for me now, got easier throughout the day! I can talk like a NYer (fast) for the first time in years! Praise God!"

- Matthew Murry

EXCITING IMPROVEMENTS

Only 3 days after treatment, Matthew is now able to touch his nose with his eyes closed as well as touch his thumb and pinky together. Both of which he was previously unable to do before treatment.

We are excited to see his continued progress. His story will be updated here so keep an eye out!

Matthew showing his progress with mobility

Matthew Murry - 3 days post treatment

"This is exciting stuff, god bless"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

Matthew experiences sensation in the bottom of his feet after receiving a simple nerve test.

His left foot did not experience any sensation or move at all, but what happened to his right foot is extremely exciting!

50 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is now able to lift his leg unassisted. He was previously unable to do so.

Matthew is experiencing the benefits of stem cell therapy first hand. You can view his progress video here.


Matthew showing some amazing mobility improvements.

Matthew Murry - 50 days post treatment

"Amazing progress from one of our MS patients Matthew Murray"

Louis A. Cona, MD - DVC Stem

3 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is able to stand up with the assistance of stability bars.

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

About the author

Louis A. Cona, MD

Louis A. Cona, MD

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

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