Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) Revs Up Pre-Clinical Studies for MS

There is more good news from leading stem cell biotech Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) on preclinical rodent studies using stem cells to treat mice with an MS-like condition.ACT, Advanced Cell Technology

They published a new paper in the journal Stem Cell Reports entitled “Human ESC-Derived MSCs Outperform Bone Marrow MSCs in the Treatment of an EAE Model of Multiple Sclerosis” by Wang, et al.

Note added: there’s a related interesting paper from Jeanne Loring and Tom Lane’s groups in the same issue using neural progenitors made from hES cells. Update: there’s more reason for hope on stem cells for multiple sclerosis in 2020. See recent posts here.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells, termed hES-MSCs by the authors) were able to substantially reduce symptoms of a Multiple Sclerosis (MS)-like disease in mice.

While the control mice were severely disabled by the MS modeling condition including paralysis, those treated with the hES-MSCs were significantly healthier. In some cases this difference was dramatic as shown in the video above (Courtesy of Dr. Xiaofang Wang and Dr. Ren-he Xu, ImStem Biotechnology, Inc.) where we see a hES-MSC-treated MS model mouse running around and a control severely ill.

Interestingly, the transplantation of the hES-MSCs appeared to greatly aid the MS model mice even though all the injected cells died, suggesting an indirect mechanism through secretion of trophic factors. This notion was further supported by the fact that non-lethally irradiated (and hence non-mitotic) hESC-MSCs were still therapeutically beneficial.


They also demonstrate fairly convincingly that the hES-MSCs were better at aiding the mice than MSCs derived from bone marrow (BM-MSCs). This difference was traceable to the unique ability of hES-MSCs to readily extravasate (crawl through blood vessels) into the central nervous system (see Figure 6C above). The inability of BM-MSCs to do much therapeutic benefit may be linked to their secretion of high levels of IL-6.

This paper is exciting and important. As with pretty much all papers in the biomedical field, there are some limitations here as well and room for future studies to further clarify things. For example, there is a growing realization that for a number of conditions, especially those involving the inflammatory and immune-related illnesses such as MS, the unique physiology of mice may yield results not entirely translatable to humans. Further, more specifically the MS model here, called experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE), has some limitations as a model of MS in humans. Still, this work represents a significant advance and provides hope for future treatments of MS based on stem cells.

5 thoughts on “Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) Revs Up Pre-Clinical Studies for MS”

  1. very good news and very good writing Paul. Congratulation! It is alwas good to read about experiments that might bring us closer to cure/treat a devestating disease in our life time.

    Even though, it is a great achivement, I remain sceptic. In MS, the major problem causing permanent paralysis is not autoimmunity and inflammation, it is neurodegeneration which is most likely not caused by autoimmunity. There is something unknown going on in the CNS and it seems that not only myelin, but axons and neuros are damaged. No one knows the reason.

    So, if the BBB is intact, I have no idea how Lanza’s stem cells can help progressive MS patients.

    It is too bad, but EAE has nothing to do with MS, poor mice are killed for nothing. I wish I am wrong and look forward to any explanation how hES-MSCs can benefit progressive MS patients who have no systematic inflammation and autoimmunity.

  2. Patti McCullough

    Finally the long-awaited “dancing” mice paper/video follow up to your original post on same Paul, after Dr. Lanza presented at Brigham-Women’s Symposium June 2013. When you read that transcript, I recall you writing “If what he (Lanza) says is true, this could be huge.” You also said the hemangioblast-derived eMSCs is what sets ACTC’s MSC cells apart from the 200+ other patents. Indeed, we are eagerly awaiting the results of the Tufts Veterinary School trials with ACTC’s eMSC cells on dogs. It would be a home run just to have them effective on our beloved animal companions, but Lanza has said positive results from those trials should lead to FDA-approved human trials of same. Reminder that ten diseases being trialed with ACTC’s eMSCs at Tufts. Stay tuned.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Someone actually remembers (in detail!) or pays attention to what I wrote from last year!? I’m impressed and humbled. But seriously, although this is exciting stuff it makes sense to start out skeptical in my opinion in this kind of situation.

  3. Paul, thanks for your ongoing reporting of the advances in stem cell / regenerative medicine. You sure are on to something here with ACT’s MSC cells repairing mouse nerve cells through their trophic factors. So it appears that the MSC’s only have a short life once injected into the mice but the factors they develop are simply incredible.

    ACT also have similar hESC MSC canine trials at Tuffs uni, would you please keep us informed of further developments there?

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