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Fat-Derived Stem Cells Might Treat MS

Small study suggests they inhibit runaway immune system response

SUNDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Stem cells taken from the fat tissue of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may help treat the disease, suggests a preliminary study that included three patients.

The successful use of the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells in these patients shows that further clinical studies should be conducted into the use of SVF cells to treat multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, the researchers said.

"All three patients in our study showed dramatic improvement in their condition after the course of SVF therapy. While obviously no conclusions in terms of therapeutic efficacy can be drawn from these reports, this first clinical use of fat stem cells for treatment of MS supports further investigation into this very simple and easily-implementable treatment methodology," Dr. Boris Minev, division of neurosurgery at the University of California, San Diego, said in a news release.

In people with MS, the immune system attacks and destroys the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerves cells. It's believed that SVF cells, and other stem cells, may limit this immune reaction and promote the growth of new myelin.

"None of the presently available MS treatments selectively inhibit the immune attack against the nervous system, nor do they stimulate regeneration of previously damaged tissue. We've shown that SVF cells may fill this therapeutic gap," Minev said.

The study was published in the Journal of Translational Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about MS.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, April 23, 2009

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