7 posts tagged “MS treatments”

Stem Cell Treatment For MS

Posted October 16th, 2018 by

Stem cell therapy is a popular topic in the MS forum and some members are already tracking and evaluating their experience. How does it work? Are there risks? To find answers to your stem cell therapy questions, we asked our team of in-house health professionals to take a look at the current research

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are different from other cell types because they can continuously replenish themselves. They have the ability to develop into any type of cell and act as an internal repair system in your body.

Because stem cells have the potential to be a renewable source of replacement cells, researchers started investigating how they could be used to treat a variety of diseases.

What is stem cell therapy?

In stem cell therapy, a patient’s cells are replaced by new cells, either their own (autologous) or from someone else (allogeneic). The first step in this process involves growing stem cells in a lab and then transforming them into a specific cell type. These specialized cells are infused into the patient where they may multiply and help repair damaged tissues.

However, more research is still needed to fully understand how to use these cells for regenerative or reparative medicine.

What’s the latest research in stem cell therapy and MS?

Many studies are evaluating which type of stem cell therapy and which delivery method is the most safe and effective for MS. Here’s a recap of new approaches and results:

  • Rebooting the immune system: Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) replaces the cells in the bone marrow which in turn supports your body’s immune system. Stem cells are collected from your blood or bone marrow and then later infused back into your body to regenerate your immune system.
    • In between the process of collecting the stem cells and re-infusing them, you might use chemotherapy, biological agents, or radiation therapy to wipe out the existing immune system so it can be built up again. This method is thought to slow down the progression of MS.
  • Stem cells to promote repair: In MS, a patient’s immune cells attack the protective layer that surrounds the nerves (myelin) and the cells that produce myelin (oligodendrocytes). The loss of myelin and damaged neurons causes scar tissue to form in the damaged areas.
    • Stem cells may be able to replenish those neurons that are lost and reduce inflammation and scarring. Clinical trials are testing stem cells and their ability to stimulate myelin repair.

Still in the early stages: More extensive clinical trials are in progress to evaluate the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for MS. No federal laws have banned stem cell research in the United States, but there are some restrictions on funding and use of stem cells. Right now, there are only 3 studies available in the US that are recruiting patients to study stem cells in MS within the US. Find out about ones near you.

What are the potential risks?

Because stem cell therapy destroys and rebuilds your immune system, it may increase your risk for:

  • Immune rejection of the infused cell: This might happen because your body considers stem cells as a foreign element.
  • Tumors: Stem cells have the ability to duplicate over their lifespan. This may lead to their potential for growing uncontrollably into malignant tumors. Healthcare providers are aware of this possibility and with newer practices, they may be prevented.
  • Transmission of foreign pathogens: Donor to recipient transmission may result in the introduction of viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens that may lead to adverse reactions.

Considering stem cell therapy?

Talk to your healthcare provider and decide together if this is the right treatment or option for you. The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has prepared a list of things to know for those considering stem cell treatment:

  • Beware of stem cell treatments offered without regulatory approval or outside registered clinical trials. Some stem cell treatments may not require FDA approval, but those that involve manufacturing specific cells do, so it’s important to talk to your provider to understand if the treatment you’re considering is being used appropriately. Find more information here.
  • Be wary of clinics offering treatments for a wide variety of conditions or diseases.
  • Watch out for clinics that market their treatments, instead of using clinical evidence.

Want to know more? Check out these resources:

Have you tried stem cell therapy? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to weigh in or see what others are saying.



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Probiotics for MS? The latest research

Posted May 23rd, 2018 by

Wondering if a probiotic could help treat your MS? With 10 forum threads on the topic, you’re not the only one. From conflicting information online to recommendations from friends and new research making headlines, separating fact from fiction can be tricky. Here’s a recap of the latest research on probiotics and MS from our in-house team of health professionals.

Let’s start with the basics: What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms (usually bacteria or yeast) that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses and encourage a healthy digestive tract and immune system. They’re often referred to as “gut-friendly” bacteria.

  • Where can you get them? Probiotics are often in supplements or foods (like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, etc.) that are prepared by bacterial fermentation.
  • A couple probiotic bacteria that have been shown to have health benefits include: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Within those groups are many different species and strains. Many probiotic supplements (broad-spectrum or multi-probiotics) combine different species together in the same supplement.
  • Gut flora (microbiota) consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics may help improve the way your gut flora performs. Probiotics can benefit both men and women equally, so it is definitely worthwhile trying them.
Why is gut health important for MS?
  • Your gut does more than digest food — it plays an essential role in the immune system. This is why it’s essential that you visit a place such as The Hills Gastroenterology in Sydney, when you have an issue with your gut, such as, digestion.
  • There are both anti-inflammatory microbes and microbes that cause inflammation by adding stress to the immune system. When your gut bacteria is out of balance, it can have a negative impact on your health.
  • Some research shows, an MS gut may have more pro-inflammatory bacteria like Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansiaas and less anti-inflammatory bacteria like Butyricimonas.
  • Newer research shows there may be a link between gut flora and the progression of MS.
The latest research on probiotics for MS
  • While there have been studies in mice models and bacteria, there are only two clinical trials that have studied the effects of probiotics in patients with MS.
  • pilot study tested 22 patient fecal samples before and after administering VSL3 (a probiotic mixture with 8 strains of lactic acid–producing bacteria including: L. plantarum, L. delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus and L. acidophilus) for markers of inflammation which has been associated with the progression of MS.
    • Results: There was an increased anti-inflammatory effect in the cells after administration of probiotic.
  • randomized controlled trial treated 60 patients with a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus fermentum.
    • Results: The study demonstrated that the use of probiotic capsule for 12 weeks among patients with MS had favorable effects on EDSS (Expanded Disability Status Scale), mental health, and inflammatory factors.
    • Based on the results, the difference in EDSS levels between treatment and placebo was statistically significant, however, was not clinically significant (meaning, we need more evidence).
The bottom line:

Should you start taking a probiotic? The jury’s still out. Based on the two trials and the other non-patient studies, there seems to be a link between gut flora and the progression of MS. However, at this time there isn’t enough data or clinical benefit to support the use of probiotics for MS.

Considering taking a probiotic to treat your MS? Be sure to talk to your doctor.

Have you tried taking a probiotic to treat your MS? Join PatientsLikeMe and share your experience with the community.

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