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How do mesenchymal stem cells from people with secondary progressive MS differ?

Microscope and slide
Lead researcher:
Professor Cris Constantinescu
Based at:
University of Nottingham
MS Society funding:

About the project

The aim of this three-year project is to increase our knowledge about a type of stem cell called mesenchymal stem cells.

These particular stem cells are thought to have the ability to modulate the immune system as well as repair and limit damage to nerve fibres of the brain and spinal cord in people with MS.

In order to better understand the effect they might have, mesenchymal stem cells from people with secondary progressive MS will be compared with cells from people without MS in this study using a range of techniques.

How will it help people with MS?

Experts believe that transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells could be a good potential therapy for the treatment of secondary progressive MS and that their effectiveness should be tested in a clinical trial.

A greater understanding of mesenchymal stem cells will be valuable for the design of clinical trials to test these stem cells as a potential therapy for secondary progressive MS.

What did they find?

The scientists got MSCs from a person’s bone marrow and got immune cells from the blood of that same person. They did this with 10 people without MS, and 10 people with secondary progressive MS. The scientists looked at the MSCs in a dish in the lab, and then looked at what happened when the immune cells were added. 

They found that MSCs from people with MS aren’t as good at suppressing inflammation as MSCs from people without MS. It’s not yet clear what these findings mean for MSC treatment for people with MS.

The difference you can make

There are currently no treatments available to help repair damage caused by MS. This type of project is vital if treatments are to become reality.

This project is jointly funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation.