What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS). MS affects approximately 2.5 million people worldwide. High prevalence of MS is seen in northern parts of Europe and North America.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
It is characterized by demyelination and neuronal loss that is induced by attack of autoreactive T cells to the myelin sheath and endogenous remyelination failure, leading to functional neurological disability. Its very complex pathogenesis is not completely understood.
What are Common Signs and Symptoms?
They may differ greatly from person to person and over the course of the disease depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. They often affect movement, such as:
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at the time, or your legs and trunk.
- Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward.
- Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait.
Also vision problems are common, some include:
- Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time and often with pain during eye movement.
- Double vision.
- Blurry vision.
Other symptoms can include: fatigue, slurred speech, dizziness, tingling or pain in different parts of the body, problems with sexual, bowel and bladder function.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord (myelin). Myelin can be compared to the insulation coating on electrical wires. When the protective myelin is damaged and the nerve fiber is exposed, the messages that travel along the nerve fiber may be slowed or blocked.
The exact cause is unknown. A combination of genetic and environmental factors appear to be responsible.
Some factors have been associated with an increased risk of developing MS. It can occur at any age, but the onset usually occurs around 20 and 40 years of age. Women are more than 2-3 times more likely to develop MS compared to men. Also certain infections, mainly viruses, have been linked to MS, including Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes mononucleosis.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
MS starts in 1 of 2 general ways, with individual relapses (attacks or exacerbations) or with gradual progression.
Relapsing remitting MS
This is the more common type, representing 8 out of every 10 individuals with MS. Someone with this type of MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as relapses, which typically worsen over a few days, last for days to weeks to even months and then slowly improve over a similar time period.
Relapses often occur without warning, but are sometimes associated with a period of illness or stress. The symptoms of a relapse may disappear, with or without treatment, although some symptoms often persist, with repeated attacks happening over several years.
The periods between attacks are known as remission periods. They can last even years. After years (normally decades), many people develop secondary progressive MS. In this type symptoms gradually worsen over time.
Primary progressive MS
This type represents only 1 in every 10 people with MS. They start the condition with a gradual worsening of symptoms. Symptoms gradually worsen and accumulate over several years, and there are no periods of remission.
Current Treatment Options
There is no cure for MS and the current treatments only help improve patient’s overall quality of life and minimize long-term disability by preventing the frequency of relapses and of acute MS attacks.
Current treatments are based on immunosuppression-based therapies and some emerginc disease modifying immunomodulatory agents such as fingolimod and dimethyl fumarate can not stop the progressive neurodegenerative process. Thus, the cell replacement therapy approach that aims to overcome the neuronal cell loss and remyelination failure and to increase endogenous myelin repair capacity is considered as an alternative treatment option.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
The most promising and beneficial approach uses mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) because of their immunomodulation potential, safety and simplicity to obtain. They can be derived from bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord, placenta tissue and other sources.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells are self-replicating cells. Studies in humans have demonstrated their suppressive effects on T cell proliferation. They have also shown reduced clinical scores, demyelination and inflammatory infiltrates in the CNS.
Clinical studies have proven the beneficial capacities of MSCs, such as the ability to:
- Modulate the immune system.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Heal injuries in the central nervous system by regenerating damaged areas.
- Stimulate neuronal stem cell differentiation.
Treatment with autologous MSC (cells obtained from the patient) treatment was carried out in 10 Multiple Sclerosis patients via intrathecal route. Improvement in clinical signs of MS was observed in a 13-26 month follow up period. There are multiple ongoing studies.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells have immunomodulatory, immunosuppressive and repair functions. They can inhibit both the innate and adaptive immune responses. Another important characteristic found is that they have transdifferentiation capacity (the conversion of one cell type to another) into neuron-like cells.
Another innovative treatment approach of these types of therapies are the use of cell-free stem cell products like exosomes that continue under investigation and that could be an alternative treatment that could potentially change the life of patients living with this chronic condition.
Stem Cell Therapy at Zignagenix
At our clinic we based our therapies and protocols following the recommendations of different research studies and utilize Umbilical cord-derived Mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs) from the Warthon’s jelly tissue.
The therapy for MS at the clinic consists in the application of UC-MSCs infused intravenously (IV) at high doses that are combined with exosomes. Also we use one of the best ways to deliver stem cells to the brain and the spinal cord through an intrathecal application that is performed by a physician with years of experience in these types of procedures.
Genc B, Bozan HR, Genc S, Genc K. Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1084:145-174.