Jerusalem, Israel -
Stem cell therapy for conditions such as multiple sclerosis is promising in part because of the possibility of remyelination, as well as the immune modulatory properties of the stem cells, especially mesenchymal stem cells.
While others have published that mesenchymal stem cells are therapeutic in various autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, detailed mechanistic examination of the immunology behind this is still being performed.
In a recent paper (Kassis et al. Neuroprotection and immunomodulation with mesenchymal stem cells in chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Arch Neurol. 2008 Jun;65(6):753-61) a detailed examination of therapeutic effects of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells was performed in the experimental allergic encephalomyelitis model of multiple sclerosis.
The investigators used 2 routes to administer the GFP-labeled mesenchymal stem cells: intravenously and intraventricularly.
Both routes of administration lead to selective accumulation of the GFP-labeled cells in the area of inflammation and actually began expressing various neural markers. Interestingly, disease severity score was substantially decreased in animals treated with the mesenchymal stem cells. Animals that recieved mesenchymal stem cells had almost twice the number of axons as control animals.
These data support pilot clinical investigations of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. In the future, the use of mesenchymal stem cells with various immune modulatory approaches, as well as neuroregenerative approaches, will be used to attain synergy and hopefully provide new ways of tackling this terrible disease.