Stem cell trials for MS treatment

A major new global clinical trial will test whether stem cells can be safely used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), it was announced today.

It will investigate if cells can slow, stop and even reverse damage to the brain and spinal cord caused by active multiple sclerosis lesions. The results will advance medical knowledge "by years", scientists said.



The £10 million trial, involving up to 200 patients around the world, is due to start later this year and will last between three and five years.



Scientists in the UK have received £1 million in joint funding from the MS Society and the UK Stem Cell Foundation for the UK arm of the trial as well as two other studies.



Paolo Muraro, lead researcher on the study based at Imperial College, London, said: "This is the first time that researchers from around the world have come together to test stem cell therapies in MS in such a large-scale clinical trial.



"A trial of this scale would be impossible to run in one location which is why this type of collaboration is essential if we are to make progress in this field."



Researchers at trial sites in London and Edinburgh will harvest stem cells from the bone marrow of 13 trial participants, grow them in the laboratory and then re-inject them into the bloodstream.



The stem cells will make their way to the brain where it is thought they will repair the damage caused by MS - including targeting the "active" lesions, where damage is happening.



MS is a disabling neurological condition affecting the central nervous system and symptoms include problems with mobility, eyesight and bladder control, pain, extreme fatigue and muscle stiffness.



Scientists believe the new study will reduce the time taken to test whether stem cells could be a safe and effective treatment for people with MS by years, the MS Society said.



Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the charity, said: "Stem cells hold tremendous potential as a future treatment option for people with MS. We are delighted to be funding this world-leading piece of research which shows the power of an international research collaboration and joint working between charities."



In recent years many people living with MS have been attracted to overseas stem cell clinics which claim to cure long-term conditions in exchange for large amounts of money.



However there is no proven stem cell therapy available for MS anywhere in the world.



It is hoped these new trials will eventually lead to a proven treatment and a reduction in the draw of overseas treatments.













Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of the UK Stem Cell Foundation, said: "I am delighted that by working in collaboration with the MS Society we have been able to progress these most promising research projects more quickly than by working in isolation.



"Dr Muraro's research project is the first trial of its kind into the use of stem cells for the treatment of MS to take place in the UK. Given the high incidence of MS in the UK in comparison to other countries, I am delighted that we have at last progressed stem cell research to this stage, which will bring much-needed hope to so many people affected by this devastating condition."



Of the two other studies funded by the MS Society and the UK Stem Cell Foundation, one based at Queen Mary Hospital, London, will look at how stem cells can be used to repair nerve damage in people with MS who have optic neuritis, a symptom of MS that can lead to temporary blindness.



The other, based at the University of Nottingham, will compare stem cells from people with a progressive form of MS to those without the condition with the aim of finding effective treatments.



PA

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

    Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police