Learn more about multiple sclerosis treatment and how stem cells can help in treating this condition here.
in this article:
- What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
- How Do You Treat Multiple Sclerosis?
- How Much Does It Cost for MS Treatment?
- What Is the Role of Stem Cells in Multiple Sclerosis Treatment?
- Where To Go For MS Stem Cell Treatment
- What Are the Factors to Consider That Place a Person at a Higher Risk for MS?
- Multiple Sclerosis Research
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment | What You Should Know
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex and long-lasting disease that causes damage to your brain and nerves.
Multiple sclerosis occurs when your immune system attacks myelin, a fatty material that shields your nerve fibers. Without this protection, damage to your nerves is inevitable.
Aside from your brain and nerves, MS can also affect your spinal cord and the optic nerves in your eyes. This can create problems with your muscle control, balance, vision, and other body functions. The effects may differ with every person, though. Some experience mild symptoms, while others may have trouble walking, feel numbness and tingling, experience pain, and more.
How Do You Treat Multiple Sclerosis?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for MS as of yet. But, medicines and therapies can help the patient manage this condition. The following is a list of MS “treatments” the patient can consider:
- alternative and complementary therapies, such as massage, herbal remedies, relaxation, yoga, and acupuncture
- occupational therapy
- botulinum toxin
- physical therapy
- deep brain stimulation
- off-label drugs
- disease-modifying drugs, such as alemtuzumab, dimethyl fumarate, and fingolimod
- IV steroids
It must be noted, though, that a doctor’s guidance is imperative before exploring any of the options above. Some drugs and treatments might give you adverse effects.
How Much Does It Cost for MS Treatment?
A study found that the cost of MS treatment ranged from $8,500 to $50,000 a year (during the study period, 1999-2008). Prescription drugs hold the larger percentage of this cost. Although many are under private and public health insurance, co-payments and high deductibles make paying for healthcare difficult.
Another study showed that the cost of first-generation disease-modifying drugs ranged from $8,000 to $11,000 a year in the 1990s. But, newer sets of this type of drugs cost even more today. The good thing with these prices, however, is that it does not include the possible discounts people can take advantage from insurance programs.
What Is the Role of Stem Cells in Multiple Sclerosis Treatment?
Stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis may have therapeutic utility for individuals with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) or who have not taken other types of MS medication. To a limited degree, doctors have tested the use of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), but this still needs more research to know how well it works on RRMS.
When doctors perform HSCT for MS, they provide medication to the patient to improve the production of bone marrow stem cells. When the patient has taken enough medication, doctors take some sample blood from the patient for stem cell use. The patient may be administered with other strong medications and high doses of chemotherapy to slow down the immune system function.
Once stem cells from the blood sample are processed, doctors place them back into the bloodstream. This allows the production of new white blood cells for a new and healthy immune system. While the treatment is ongoing, the patient may be given antibiotics to get rid of infections and other illnesses while the immune system is still recovering. If the therapy is successful, the patient’s immune system should go back to its normal state in 3 to 6 months.
Where To Go For MS Stem Cell Treatment
There are also a number of stem cell treatment centers worldwide that offer stem cell treatments for MS that utilize stem cells from other sources, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in adipose (fat) tissue or umbilical cord tissue.
As described by the Stem Cell Institute, a globally recognized stem cell treatment center headquartered in Panama City, Panama:
“Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is caused by an immune mediated attack targeting components of the myelin sheath…Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have immune regulatory properties which may stop the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath. Mesenchymal stem cells may also potentially help remyelination (re-generation of the myelin sheath) of the affected neurons.”
For those seeking a multiple sclerosis treatment, the following centers offer these types of treatments:
- Stem Cell Institute – Umbilical cord tissue derived stem cells
- Okyanos – Adipose (fat) derived stem cells
- GIOSTAR– Adipose (fat) derived stem cells
However, because none of these procedures are FDA-approved treatments, patients must carefully evaluate medical risks and seek out professional medical advice.
Finally, the Tisch MS Research Center of New York is pursuing a Phase II clinical trial exploring the use of stem cell technology for the treatment for MS. In its Phase I clinical trial, MS patients received multiple spinal injections of neural progenitors derived from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (called MSC-NPs). Compellingly, its Phase I trial was the first time ever that a treatment method has demonstrated a reversal of an established disability in MS patients.
What Are the Factors to Consider That Place a Person at a Higher Risk for MS?
There are no definite preventive measures for MS yet because the root cause is still not completely understood. But, there are factors the patient can watch out for when looking at the symptoms of MS.
People with a first-degree family member with MS are at a high risk of developing MS themselves. Based on the data from NMSS, these people have a 2.5% to 5% risk of MS, compared to an average person with only 0.13%.
- Common Viruses
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been associated with MS. A research revealed that there is a higher level of EBV antibodies in people with MS than in those without MS. HHV-6 is also another virus linked to MS. One study showed that high HHV-6 antibody levels were associated with the risk of MS relapses.
- Low Vitamin D Level
Vitamin D may play a significant role in protecting the body against MS. A study found that participants who had low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of developing MS.
- Concussions in Adolescents
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that primarily affects brain function. One study showed that adolescents aged 11 to 20 years who had multiple concussions are more likely to have MS than those who only had one.
Multiple Sclerosis Research
Although it still needs further research, stem cell therapy shows potential promise in multiple sclerosis treatment. There may be other ways to manage the condition, but stem cell therapy could potentially create a brighter future for MS treatment. Nevertheless, if a patient is interested in undergoing stem cell MS treatment, a doctor’s advice is highly recommended.
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