September 22, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Landmark New Stem Cell Trial for Multiple Sclerosis Raises Hopes

Dr. Mark S. Freedman, who is running a multiple sclerosis stem cell trial.
Dr. Mark S. Freedman, who is running a multiple sclerosis stem cell trial.

A new stem cell clinical trial for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in Canada is raising hopes amongst patients and researchers.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the trial will be led by Dr. Mark S. Freedman (pictured, photo from Ottawa Hospital), director of the multiple sclerosis research unit at The Ottawa Hospital and “The Canadian trials which are funded with a $4.2-million grant from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation.”

This clinical trial will use a type of stem cell called MSCs isolated from bone marrow.

You can learn a lot more by reading the official ClinicalTrials.gov listing here.

From the Citizen:

“This is the first major stem cell trial that is going on in MS right now around the world,” he said. “There is so much noise about stem cells in general and the hype that surrounds them, we are doing this study properly so we can answer the question for once and for all.”

I see this trial as real reason for hope. I asked my colleague and leading MSC scholar, Dr. Jan Nolta, for her thoughts on the trial:

“The well-established ability of human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells to reduce inflammation, blunt the immune system and to produce growth factors and small parcels of intracellular components- exosomes and microparticles, to deliver to damaged cells makes this a highly promising trial for patients with MS. I wish the investigators and patients the best of luck with this clinical trial.”

Like any clinical trial, this one will have certain risks, but for the discussions I have had with patients, many with severe relapsing-remitting MS, being part of a rigorous clinical trial is worth it and is a way they give back to other patients including in the future by participating.

To be clear, this trial is fundamentally different than many of the pseudo-trials of stem cell clinics that we see sprouting up in the US using stem cells to “treat’ MS and whose main goal is to make money.

In this new trial, the investigators do not charge the patients simply to be in the trial, the investigators do not personally profit directly from patient participation in the trial, the team includes highly respected physician researchers who have extensive published track records and experience in these areas, and the data from the experiment will benefit everyone.

I’m excited to see the results.

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