Friday, May 24, 2002

Stem cells

Stem cells technique offers MS hope

Stem cell research has led to a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis. The new technique involves taking stem cells from the patient's blood, killing the ones working against the immune system and returning the healthy ones to the body.
Scientists say 26 people with severe MS have undergone the treatment, which is called autologous stem cell transplantation. Within 14 months, 20 had their conditions stablised and six showed some mild improvement. Conventional treatments had previously failed for all of the patients. However, three of the patients died during the study due to complications following the procedure. The treatment is now being tested on more patients to confirm its effectiveness and study its long-term effect. The research was presented during the American Academy of Neurology's 54th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Dr George Kraft, of the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle, led the study. He said: "This is good news. These patients had all been rapidly deteriorating over the past year, so to get them to a point where they are stabilised is great progress." Dr Kraft added: "The hope is that these stem cells will eventually reconstitute into healthy immune system cells and the disease process can be stopped."Stem cells can develop into any of the body's other cells and may one day be used to cure a variety of illnesses.

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