There may be a new treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). Scientists have found that after treating severely disabled mice with human stem cells, they could walk less than two weeks following the procedure.
More than 2.3 million people worldwide have MS. This disease is an immune disorder where the immune system attacks myelin, an insulation layer that surrounds nerve fibers. The damage that the immune system causes inhibits nerve impulses, and can cause difficulty walking, impaired vision, fatigue and pain.
In order to learn a bit more about MS, the researchers focused on mice with a MS-like condition. They treated the mice with human stem cells and within just 10 to 14 days, the mice regained motor skills. Six months later, the mice showed no sign of slowing down.
"This result opens up a whole new area of research for us," said Jeanne Loring, one of the researchers, in a news release.
That's not all, either. The researchers also discovered that there were no sign of the cells after one week. During that short period of time, the cells sent signals that instructed the mouse's own cells to repair the damage caused by MS.
"Rather than having to engraft stem cells into a patient, which can be challenging, we might be able to put those chemical signals into a drug that can be used to deliver the therapy much more easily," said Tom Lane, one of the researchers, in a news release. "I would love to see something that could promote repair and ease the burden that patients with MS have."
The findings open up a whole new avenue of research for scientists. They hope that with this new study, they can start developing treatments for those with MS. In the future, it's possible that this particular work with human stem cells could mean that people with MS could walk again with therapy.
The findings are published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
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