To date, we have obtained stem cells from virtually all over the body, in the hopes of finding ways to avoid the ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells. Newer research studies have now looked at the potential to use stem cells sourced from fat. The benefit is that fat is readily available and can be extracted without complication compared to some of the other methods of stem cell sourcing.
Treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
One of the newest studies has looked at treating MS with stem cells sourced from a patient’s own fat – or adipose – tissue. Three case studies were done to look at the potential of fat stem cells in treating MS.
All of the three patients showed a significant improvement in their MS after a course of stem cell therapy. Even though it’s still early to make sweeping statements after only three cases, researchers are excited at the potential of the treatment and plan to expand their studies to more patients.
What is MS?
MS belongs to a family of diseases known as autoimmune disorders. In autoimmune disorders, the body attacks its own tissues because it sees them as a ‘foreign’ invader. In MS, the body attacks nerve cells, which causes a loss in a fatty myelin sheath and causes symptoms such as lack of coordination, slurred speech and even paralysis.
How Can Stem Cells Help?
Symptoms tend to hit younger adults, with more women suffering from the condition than men. The idea with stem cells extracted from adipose tissue is that the cells could treat MS by reducing the immune response and encouraging the growth of new myelin.
Traditional MS Treatments
With typical MS treatments, they aren’t able to actually inhibit the immune response on the nervous system. They also can’t trigger new tissue generation from the damaged myelin sheath. For these reasons, the stem cell research is particularly promising as it works to reduce the assault on the immune system while encouraging ‘healing’ of the damaged myelin sheath.
Stem Cells and MS
In the case studies of three patients, the first patient had been suffering from regular seizures for several years, all of which caused a great deal of pain. After treatment, it was reported that the seizures had completely stopped and his cognitive abilities had also improved. He further reported that there was less spasticity in his arms and legs.
For the second patient, balance and coordination were improved and it was also reported that moods and energy were raised. For the third patient, the MS diagnosis occurred some time ago in 1993 and after the stem cell treatment more than fifteen years later, his balance and coordination were significantly improved. His overall functioning and ability to move and perform physical activities has also improved to the extent he is running and riding a bicycle.
Positive Outlook for Stem Cells from Fat
MS is a debilitating disease that continues to strike Britons and others around the world. With adipose tissue being a relatively accessible, ethical form of stem cells, we will hopefully see this study expanded to help bring this treatment to everyone who suffers from the disease.