Stem Cell Therapies
While stem cell therapies hold a great deal of promise for many rare diseases, there is still a lot that we don’t understand. Experimental stem cell therapies for various neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases thus far have had mixed results.
Typically, stem cells are removed from the bone marrow, activated by a protein in the immune system called interferon gamma, and injected intravenously. The biggest problem is that these cells frequently don’t hit the target because they are trapped in other organs along the way.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have conducted a new study utilizing a different approach to stem cell therapy. Their model has produced very positive results in mice with multiple sclerosis (MS).
In the UCI researcher’s mouse model, the nanotechnology which was derived from bone marrow stem cells actually reversed MS symptoms. Motor skills which had been lost were recovered and nerve damage was decreased. Additionally, the therapy was able to normalize the immune systems of the mice. This is something that current therapies have not been able to accomplish.
What did these researchers do differently? They utilized exosomes, taken from the stem cells. These are nano-sized particles which contain neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory RNA molecules and protein molecules. These exosomes were effectively able to pass through the blood-spinal cord barrier and get where they needed to go.
The results from this study was published in ACS Nano.
Several other studies are currently underway and a clinical trial of the therapy will begin in 2020. This first human trial will be conducted for Type 1 diabetes. If this trial continues to showcase the potential of this stem cell therapy, it will be investigated further in other autoimmune conditions, including MS.
Hopefully, this new approach to stem cell therapy will continue to show efficacy and potential for treating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
You can read more about this study here.