An international consensus on the future of stem cell transplantation research for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) was recently published, paving the way for more coordinated global research efforts and potentially better, and quicker, patient access to stem cell clinical trials.
The guidelines, which have been written and approved by some of the most well respected international MS researchers, as well as MS Societies from around the world, spell out hope for the future of MS stem cell research and debunk myths about overseas stem cell clinics claiming to cure the condition.
Professor Gianvito Martino from the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, and Professor Robin Franklin from the University of Cambridge, UK, are lead authors for the guidelines, which:
- outline the promise stem cell transplantation has shown in early stage clinical trials and ways they could be used to treat MS in the future.
- describe the different types of stem cells that might be used to treat different types of MS.
- detail methods of delivering these stem cell therapies into patients.
- highlight best practice in conducting clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapies in MS.
A stem cell public information booklet “Stem Cell Therapies in MS” produced in partnership by MS Societies from the UK, USA, Italy, France, Australia, and the MS International Federation summarizes the guidelines for people affected by MS.
Researchers have agreed that stem cells are likely to have a significant role to play in the treatment of MS, but also warn that expectations should be realistic.
Professor Gianvito Martino said, “At this stage it is unreasonable to claim that stem cells are a magic cure for MS. It is, however, likely that they will one day play an important role in treating the condition.”
Professor Robin Franklin added, “It is only by working together will we get the answer as to whether stem cell transplants hold promise in the treatment of MS. The guidelines will help the research community get to that answer more quickly than we would by working in isolation.”
The guidelines are the result of an international stem cell consensus meeting held in London in May 2009 organized by the MS Society in the UK and USA, and supported by MS Society of Italy, France, Australia, and the MS International Federation.
Dr. Jayne Spink, Director of Policy and Research at the MS Society in the UK, said, “The MS Societies around the world are in a unique position to facilitate coordination and collaboration regarding international stem cell research. This should help the research to progress more quickly.”
She added, “We have coordinated the production of these guidelines along with the public information booklet to provide accurate information that should help counteract the confusion caused by unscrupulous stem cell clinics falsely marketing MS cures.”
Illustration: Microsoft clipart.
Multiple Sclerosis Society News Release (05/06/10)
Medical News Today (05/07/10)
Abstract (Nature Reviews Neurology; 6, 247-255 (05/10))