Cleveland, Ohio, is now a ground of one of the most important researches held by the medics nowadays. Case Western Reserve University began a research of the stem cell therapy usage for treating multiple sclerosis. It is expected, that stem cells will be able to replace and repair the damaged brain tissue, removing the reason of sclerosis and greatly easing the disease.
Injecting the patient with his own bone marrow stem cells is actually quite a rude action, as nobody knows exactly how or why it works. This research tried to get answers to multiple questions upon the process, after successfully completing the series of tests on mice. Prof. Robert Miller of the Case Western Reserve University was the head of the project.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, when your immune system starts to attack the myelin cover of your nerves. This causes nerves to become thin and weak and lose the ability to transmit signals from the brain and back to it, leading to memory loss as well as movement and coordination abilities.
The newly held research was aimed on showing the possibility to restore the damaged myelin nerve covers, curing the multiple sclerosis for good. As well as other groups, doing researches with the stem cells, Miller’s group was unaware of the exact mechanism of the stem cells performance. They only knew that mice, which had their kind of multiple sclerosis disorder, were cured after receiving the human stem cell for therapy.
In May, the research group has finally discovered the source of the stem cells healing effect: it was the large molecule, called the hepatocyte growth factor or HGF, secreted by the stem cells into the surrounding medium. Miller said that this HGF secret is the key to repairing the damaged myelin covers. The research team published the results of their studies in the Nature Neuroscience.
It was discovered, when mice were injected only with the medium, where the cells used to grow, without any cells actually. That led to a conclusion, that the healing agent was in the medium. After thorough analysis, the HGF was found.
To ensure it is the agent they need, 1 sick mouse was injected a big dose of HGF and got much better shortly afterwards. The other mouse received a block upon HGF acceptors and after being injected the same amount of HGF remained sick. That was quite an obvious evidence of the success, Miller said.
When HGF was later injected to patients, results of the tests and measurements improved significantly. 16 of 24 had their functions essentially improved and 8 of them passed the trial protocol, said DR. Jeffrey Cohen, the lead investigator of the project results.
Now the group is aimed at increasing the efficacy of the HGF molecule to ensure the steady and reliable improvement of the multiple sclerosis condition and bring new hope to the people, suffering from it. These methods include direct input of the HGF into the damaged brain area to minimize the waste of the healing agent throughout the body and maximize its output where it is needed most.