Treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) is an evolving area and one in which new therapeutic approaches are rapidly advancing. Led by Dr. Saud Sadiq, 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. The announcement followed positive results from an FDA-approved Phase I stem cell trial for MS.
Treatment for MS, Interview with Dr. Sadiq
In the Phase I clinical trial, MS patients received multiple spinal injections of neural progenitors derived from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (called MSC-NPs).
Compellingly, the Phase I trial was the first time ever that a treatment method has demonstrated a reversal of an established disability in MS patients.
Stem Cell Treatment for MS Reverses Disability in Patients
For more than 20 years, Dr. Saud Sadiq has aimed to merge clinical excellence with innovative research targeted at finding a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Today, the Tisch MS Research Center of New York, a non-profit research center, has a close relationship with its affiliated clinical practice, the International Multiple Sclerosis Management Practice.
This partnership enables the testing of new MS treatments and accelerates the pace at which research discoveries are translated into clinical practice, as demonstrated by the center’s innovative work with the use of neural progenitors derived from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells.
In the interview with Dr. Sadiq, we discuss recent progress with the use of stem cells for MS, most notably, their potential to reverse disability in MS patients. Specifically, we discuss the Phase I clinical trial led by Dr. Sadiq in which brain-like neural cells were delivered to MS patients within 30 minutes of harvesting, a technique not utilized anywhere else in the world.
Stem Cells Improve Function of Patients with MS
According to Dr. Sadiq, “Repair and regeneration is possible. We have a patient who no longer needs her cane, one who has transitioned from a motorized scooter to taking steps with a walker and another who has discontinued their bladder medication as those symptoms have dramatically improved. This is the first treatment that improves established disability in patients with progressive MS and shows us there is hope that a future treatment is possible.”
The Tisch MSRCNY continues to seek funding to facilitate research aimed at finding a cure for MS, utilizing stem cells as well as related approaches. This outcome would change the lives of the 400,000 people in the U.S. and about 2.5 million people worldwide who are affected by the disease.
Enjoy learning more about the utilization of stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) from Dr. Saud Sadiq.
Interview with Dr. Sadiq of the Tisch MS Research Center of NY
Cade Hildreth: What Is Your Background and Why Did You Choose to Focus Your Career Around Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: I’m a medical doctor, and I have done internal medicine and neurology. I did a research fellowship in the immunology of the nervous system, which led me to focus on multiple sclerosis, which is a disease of the nervous system caused by abnormal immunological responses.
Cade Hildreth: What Was Your Vision for Founding the Tisch MS Research Center of New York?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: Our main aim is to find the cause of MS, so we can find a cure.
Cade Hildreth: How Do the Research and Clinical Branches of Your Group Work Collaboratively to Benefit Patients?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: The collaboration between the research and clinical branches is seamlessly interwoven, as the research is patient-based and focuses on translational research to deliver the best clinical care possible. Since I direct the practice as well as the research center, there is no leadership friction.
Cade Hildreth: How Does the Tisch MS Research Center of New York Serve MS Patients (e.g. Clinical Methods, Personal Approach, Feel of The Clinic, Cost, etc.)?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: The Tisch research center does not directly see patients. All research clinical trials, like our stem cell trial, are overseen by the research center. All other research at the Tisch MS research center is indirectly or directly related to human disease and MS.
Cade Hildreth: What Types of Patients Do You Serve? Are There Any Restrictions on Who Can Access Your Services?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: Any patient with multiple sclerosis can be seen at our center, the International Multiple Sclerosis Management Practice.
Cade Hildreth: How Is the Tisch MS Research Center of New York Funded?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: The Tisch Center is funded through private philanthropy, foundations, corporate sponsors, and grants.
Cade Hildreth: Can You Explain Your Recent Phase I Stem Cell Study for MS and the Clinical Outcomes?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: Our Phase I stem cell study for MS was designed to establish safety of our approach. We unexpectedly have also found that about 70% of our patients have experienced improvement of their established disability, which is very encouraging.
Cade Hildreth: What Types of Preparations Are Underway to Move This into a Phase II Study?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: We have started the initial preparation for the Phase II study, which involves obtaining permission from the FDA and collaborating with another MS center in New York (Cornell).
Cade Hildreth: If Successful, How Could This Approach to Treating MS Revolutionize the Experience of MS Patients Worldwide?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: If successful, this would be a paradigm shift in the management of MS patients, as it would for the first time make a treatment available that would reverse established disability in patients with MS and related diseases.
Cade Hildreth: What Type of Investment, Funding, or Support Is Needed to Launch This Phase II Trial?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: For the actual Phase II trial, the cost is $3 million, but we’re also trying to expand our stem cell facilities and our core experimental laboratory. The cost for this expansion is approximately $10 million.
Cade Hildreth: What Are Your Goals for the Tisch MS Research Center of New York Over the Next 5-10 Years?
Dr. Saud Sadiq: The primary goal is still to find the cause of MS so that we can work towards a cure. Our current success with the stem cell project has also made it possible that in the next 5 years, we can bring this kind of therapy to the market.
Cade Hildreth: How Can People Get in Touch with You to Support Your Vision or Learn More About the Tisch MS Research Center of New York?
Cade Hildreth: Thank you for the honor of doing this interview. I applaud the time, effort, and innovation that you put into improving the lives of patients with MS, as well as finding a cure for the disease.
Or, learn more about stem cells research for MS by reading our interview with Pamela Levin, Communications Director of Tisch MSRCNY.
What are your thoughts about the stem cell treatment for MS? We would like to hear from you in the comments below.