The Ottawa Hospital leads first Canadian clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis.
Today the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation announced a $4.2 million grant to support the first Canadian clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS). The clinical trial is led by Dr Mark S. Freedman of The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa (ON, Canada).
Mesenchymal stem cells or mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are found in adult bone marrow, fat and skin tissue, as well as umbilical cord blood. Like other kinds of stem cells, MSCs can give rise to other more specialized types of cells. Their therapeutic potential and advantage comes more from their ability to modify the immune system, reduce inflammation and release factors that help prevent and repair tissue damage.
The trial is called MESCAMS (MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS patients) and aims to evaluate the safety and potential benefits of MSCs that have been extracted from the patient’s own bone marrow, expanded in a specialized laboratory and then infused back into the same participant.
“Previous clinical trials have shown that mesenchymal stem cell therapy is well-tolerated in humans, and there are some preliminary signs of effectiveness in other diseases,” explained Dr Freedman. “I’m very excited to be leading this study, which will provide more definitive answers for people living with multiple sclerosis.”
MESCAMS is part of a larger, international research effort studying MSCs, led by Dr Freedman and Dr A. Uccelli of Genoa, Italy. The international effort will allow scientific resources and expertise to be pooled from nine countries worldwide. This effort will also assist in developing an international consensus on safe protocols for MSC therapy.
The trial seems promising and comments from fellow stem cell scientists seem positive. Here’s hoping for successful results, especially after hearing the number of dubious pseudo-trials and stem cell tourism stories lately.
For more details and information about the trial have a look at the official ClinicalTrials.gov listing here.
1. Ottawa research institute press release: http://www.ohri.ca/newsroom/newsstory.asp?ID=585
2. Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog: http://www.ipscell.com/