Stem Cell Bone Marrow Transplant

28
Feb 2017
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UK study further substantiates stem cell treatment for MS

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Last summer we blogged about a team at The Ottawa Hospital that had proved a stem cell/chemo combo treatment could halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) and — in some cases — help patients recover from the autoimmune disease.…

Last summer we blogged about a team at The Ottawa Hospital that had proved a stem cell/chemo combo treatment could halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) and — in some cases — help patients recover from the autoimmune disease.

Now comes news from the United Kingdom that further substantiates the work of Drs. Harry Atkins and Mark Freedman in showing that using bone marrow stem cell transplants to rebuild an MS patient’s immune system can prevent the disease from worsening and dramatically improve mobility and freedom from pain for some.

The Atkins-Freedman study, published in the prestigious Lancet journal, focused on two dozen patients treated over a decade. The UK study, published last week in JAMA Neurology, reviewed 281 patients tracked over five years. Led by Dr. Paolo Muraro of Imperial College London, the study found the treatment prevented symptoms of severe disease from worsening for five years for almost half of the patients treated.  Drs. Atkins and Freedman co-authored the UK study and  results from their work were included in the review.

Among patients with relapsing MS, nearly three in four saw no worsening of their symptoms five years after treatment, while younger patients with less severe forms of the disease were more likely respond to the therapy. Most of the patients, though, had progressive MS, which is more severe.  Among them, one in three experienced no worsening of symptoms, according to a report by Imperial College.

MS occurs when a person’s immune system misfires and begins attacking nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Currently, there is no treatment for sever, progressive MS.

In essence, the new approach, which is called autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, involves extracting the patient’s own bone marrow stem cells and fortifying them, then destroying their immune system through chemotherapy. The stem cells are then transplanted back into the patient to rebuild the immune system — ideally without the disease.

The stem cell/chemo treatment is not for everyone who has MS — young people with more robust stem cells tend to respond better than older patients — and it comes with risks. Eight patients died following the treatment.

Dr. Muraro said the risks must be weighed against the benefits: “We previously knew this treatment reboots or resets the immune system – and that it carried risks – but we didn’t know how long the benefits lasted. In this study, which is the largest long-term follow-up study of this procedure, we’ve shown we can ‘freeze’ a patient’s disease – and stop it from becoming worse, for up to five years.”

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21
Nov 2016
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Transplant recipient Dan Muscat

Transplant recipient Dan Muscat

Transplant frees scleroderma patient from excruciating pain, gives him hope for the future

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In the summer of 2014, Dan Muscat’s fingertips started to tingle. It felt like tiny shards of glass were piercing the skin underneath his fingernails.…

In the summer of 2014, Dan Muscat’s fingertips started to tingle. It felt like tiny shards of glass were piercing the skin underneath his fingernails. Over the next weeks and months the pain crept into his hands.

His family doctor thought it might be arthritis and prescribed a steroid to get things under control.  “Within days, the disease sped up,” says Muscat. “It went from the top of my head to my toes.  My ankles and my feet were so inflamed I couldn’t walk 20 feet.”

Muscat, who owns a jewelry business in St. Thomas, Ontario, was referred to a rheumatologist who immediately recognized what was happening to him: “Dan had rapidly progressive early onset diffuse scleroderma,” says Dr. Janet Pope of St. Joseph’s Health Care in London.

Scleroderma — from the Greek words for “hard” (sclera) and “skin” (derma) — is the term used for a group of rare autoimmune diseases that, according to the Mayo Clinic, involve hardening of the skin and connective tissues due to an overproduction of collagen.  Diffuse scleroderma is a systemic type of the disease, meaning it affects not only the skin and muscle but also the digestive tract and internal organs, ultimately leading to death.

The future did not look good for Muscat: “He had not responded to usual immune suppressive treatment,” says Dr. Pope.

By late 2015, Muscat was growing desperate. He had heard that Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern University in Chicago was offering a treatment using a patient’s own bone marrow stem cells to rebuild their immune system and shut down scleroderma.  Muscat reached out to the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation for guidance.

“I investigated costs of Northwestern University treatment,” says Muscat, “and it was somewhere between $300,000 and $350,000. I thought about selling my business or my home.  If I had to, I would have done that.  Financially, it would have been a huge burden.”

Because the American treatment is similar to the combination chemotherapy/ bone marrow stem cell transplant treatment that The Ottawa Hospital’s Dr. Harry Atkins has used successfully against extreme forms of multiple sclerosis (MS, which is also an autoimmune disorder), the Foundation suggested Muscat reach out to him.  Earlier this year Dr. Atkins agreed to take Muscat on as his first scleroderma patient.

“He fit the profile of the kind of patient best treated with these kinds of stem cell transplants” says Dr. Atkins, who is also an associate professor at the University of Ottawa.  “There was a randomized trial carried out in Europe that was very well done and had very good results.  I know the doctors involved and we’d talked a little bit about it, but their methods had also been published and are available for everybody. That’s why we publish — to spread the knowledge.”

By the time Muscat arrived in Ottawa in May, the disease had taken its toll.  Once an imposing figure who worked out regularly and thought nothing of going for five- or six- miles runs, Muscat had watched 45 pounds fade from his six-foot frame.  His brisk walk had turned into a painful shuffle.  His boundless energy (he built a log home by himself, is an avid fisherman and collects classic sports cars) disappeared, making it difficult to get through a day. His fingers became like stone claws, curving in at the knuckles. His skin was so impenetrable he worried the Ottawa medical team might not be able to run an intravenous line.  And the pain was excruciating.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, about 15,” Muscat says.

Muscat began the therapy in June and spent much of last summer undergoing the treatment designed to destroy the diseased immune system and rebuild it with his own purified stem cells, ideally to produce a new, scleroderma-free one.  Though not as harsh as the chemotherapy MS patients undergo, it is not a treatment to be taken lightly.  The risk did not dissuade Muscat: “If the treatment didn’t kill me, the disease would.”

He made it through chemo with few noticeable side-effects beyond losing his hair and tolerating a couple of infections.  Released from hospital in August, he embraced physiotherapy, doing three to five hours daily to get his flexibility back and rid his body of the collagen buildup.

He is now back in St. Thomas, occasionally working at the store — he has to limit his time in public places because the chemo has left him vulnerable to infections. “My pain is one or two percent compared to what it was before.” His range of motion with his arms and legs is much improved and he can get around on foot again.

He realizes it could take a year before the chemo drugs fade from his system and the full benefits of the treatment kick in. Muscat, grateful for the excellent care provided by The Ottawa Hospital’s bone marrow transplant team, is unswerving in his belief that he can beat this disease. “I feel physically and mentally better.  I just don’t feel that I’m being attacked.”

In an email message, rheumatologist Dr. Pope said that while Muscat “has a long road ahead, we expect more recovery with softening of his skin and improved function. His pain is less and he feels that shortly after the transplant a ‘switch’ was turned back to how it should be and he developed a better sense of well-being. I will follow him carefully and I hope for more improvement over the next year or two. He is in physiotherapy and is getting ongoing intravenous drugs for safety as his immune system continues to reconstitute. I am very hopeful that Dan will be even better over time. This is not a cure, but has given Dan a better chance of recovery.”

In Ottawa, Dr. Atkins also urges caution. “It’s going to take months and months to know if this is a real improvement. The changes with scleroderma don’t happen overnight.  This is not a curative treatment; it doesn’t make scleroderma go away and never come back.  It’s something that helps a population of scleroderma patients: some patients improve, some not.  There are patients that progress or relapse again.”

Muscat is positive about the future: “I still have the remnants of the disease, but I can jump in and out of my truck again and I can walk a couple of kilometres with no problems.  I feel very optimistic, like I’ve been given a second chance.”

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03
Nov 2016
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biotechnology-focus

When it comes to stem cells, we need to think big

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A feature in the current edition of Biotechnology Focus tells the story of how systemic scleroderma was stealing the life of Dan Muscat, a 49-year-old St.…

A feature in the current edition of Biotechnology Focus tells the story of how systemic scleroderma was stealing the life of Dan Muscat, a 49-year-old St. Thomas, Ontario jeweler. After a bone marrow stem cell treatment at The Ottawa Hospital last summer, his excruciating pain has diminished and he has been able to resume much of his active life. Though not cured, he has a new lease on life.

Dan Muscat’s story raises a key question:  As stem cells begin to emerge as treatments for a number of currently incurable conditions and diseases, what will it take to get more therapies in the clinic?

The article quotes James Price, President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation: “To make this happen, we need to think differently– and to think big.” He points out that a coordinated national stem cell strategy would not only lead to cures and save lives, but also generate thousands of good jobs and boost the economy.”

Read the full story here.

 

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13
Sep 2016
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Across Canada, people pull for Jonathan Pitre

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Jonathan Pitre, Ottawa’s much-loved “Butterfly Boy,” has had to cope with daily pain that few of us could endure for his entire 16 years.…

Jonathan Pitre, Ottawa’s much-loved “Butterfly Boy,” has had to cope with daily pain that few of us could endure for his entire 16 years.

And while there is considerable hardship ahead as he waits to see whether his stem cell transplant takes, at least now there is hope.

Diagnosed shortly after birth with severe form of epidermolysis bullosa (EB), the term used for a group of diseases that cause the skin to break out in sores and blisters, Jonathan recently underwent nine days of chemotherapy at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis before receiving a bone marrow stem cell transplant last Thursday. That was followed by second round of chemotherapy to prevent complications from graft-versus-host disease.

Now he waits to see if the transplant triggers his body to begin producing new cells that can give his ravaged skin the chance to heal.

“The next three or four weeks are going to be a critical part of Jonathan’s treatment,” explains Andrew Duffy, who has told the young man’s courageous story so sensitively in the pages of the Ottawa Citizen, his words accompanied by powerful video and photographic images by Julie Oliver.

While there is no talk of curing Jonathan, stem cells are his best hope.  The  physician who is pioneering this treatment, Dr. Jakub Tolar, told the Citizen that the procedure comes with the possibility of “hundreds of complications” and that he “cannot promise success.”  However, in the best case scenario “the change is profound.”

Tina Boileau — Jonathan’s mother, constant caregiver and stem cell donor — has a simpler goal in mind for her son:  “A day without pain.”

Kids with EB are called “Butterfly Children” because their skin seems as fragile as that of a butterfly. There is currently no cure for EB. According to the U.S. Mayo Clinic, many patients with severe forms of EB die in childhood.  Others often succumb to skin cancer in young adulthood.

Across Canada, people are pulling for the remarkable young man who, throughout his battles with EB, has never lost his sense of humour, or his commitment to persevere.

An avid hockey fan, Jonathan drew national media attention when he was hired for one day to scout a game for the Ottawa Senators. He’s also the subject of a compelling TSN documentary in which he explained why he chose to become an ambassador for children like him who struggle with the disease and to campaign to raise money for research: “I wanted to start helping other people with EB.”

Even while suffering the nasty after-effects of chemo, Jonathan remains upbeat.  “We’re still here, obviously, and we’re still fighting — and that won’t change,” he told the Citizen on Monday.

 

 

 

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09
Jun 2016
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Drs. Harry Atkins and Mark Freedman of The Ottawa Hospital

Drs. Harry Atkins and Mark Freedman of The Ottawa Hospital

Ottawa team proves stem cell/chemo combo halts MS

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A team led by two doctors from The Ottawa Hospital has proved that stem cells, used in combination with chemotherapy can halt the progression of aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and — in some cases — help patients recover from the autoimmune disease.…

A team led by two doctors from The Ottawa Hospital has proved that stem cells, used in combination with chemotherapy can halt the progression of aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and — in some cases — help patients recover from the autoimmune disease.

In a paper published today in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, Drs. Harry Atkins and Mark Freedman show that bone marrow stem cell transplants can eliminate all signs of damaging brain inflammation by rebuilding a patient’s immune system.

MS occurs when a person’s own immune system attacks the myelin protective sheath that covers nerves, causing inflammation and damage that inhibits communication between cells in the nervous system — the brain and spinal column.

The researchers took bone marrow stem cells from patients with aggressive MS and purified them in a laboratory. After the patients underwent extreme chemotherapy, their robust stem cells were returned to rebuild new immune systems.

The clinical trial involved 24 patients and tracked their progression over several years. According to The Ottawa Hospital’s news release, after the treatment:

  • Not a single participant experienced a clinical relapse (zero relapses in 179 patient-years), whereas before treatment, the participants experienced an average of 1.2 relapses per year.
  • Not a single new active inflammatory lesion could be detected in the brains of any of the participants.
  • Not a single participant required MS-specific drugs to control their disease.
  • 70% of participants experienced a complete stop in disease progression.
  • The average rate of brain shrinkage, typically a measure that correlates with MS progression, returned to levels associated with normal aging.
  • 40% of participants experienced some lasting reversal of such symptoms as vision loss, muscle weakness and balance problems.
  • Some participants were able to return to work or school, regain the ability to drive, get married and have children.

In Jennifer Molson’s case, the treatment eradicated all traces of the MS that had taken over her life. Prior to taking part in the study, she was receiving 24-hour care at the Rehab Centre at the Ottawa Hospital, “learning to how to live with my disability.” She had quit her job and could only walk with the help of forearm crutches or a walker. Life in a wheelchair was imminent.

Now free of MS symptoms for more than a dozen years, Ms. Molson has resumed a demanding career and a busy schedule. As she described in the book Dreams & Due Diligence:  Till and McCulloch’s Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy, “I downhill ski, I drive a standard. I can skate. I can dance … Am I cured? I like to use that word. They (Drs. Atkins and Freedman) don’t like to use that word. They’re calling it a lasting remission. I’m very lucky. I got a second chance at life.”

While his recovery was less dramatic, Vancouver’s Aaron Prentice said his quality of life is much improved: “I am now five years post-transplant,” he wrote in the Foundation’s Cellections newsletter last year. “I have not had a relapse and no longer require a cane. My gait has improved significantly and continues to do so. My arms are symptom free.”

The Ottawa Hospital, the MS Society of Canada and the University of Ottawa have produced a video about the clinical trial that can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW86owclZes&feature=youtu.be

Marjorie Bowman, trial coordinator and advanced practice nurse at The Ottawa Hospital, expressed her admiration for the remarkable “courage and dedication” demonstrated by the trial’s participants. “We thank the patients from across Canada who participated in this clinical trial, as well as their family members,” she said.

The treatment, Dr. Atkins explained in Dreams & Due Diligence, is a variation on the bone marrow ablation that leukemia patients undergo.

“MS is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is attacking a patient’s brain. The simple concept behind our treatment is, ‘Let’s just get rid of the old immune system and put back the seeds, let a new one grow and hope that it won’t learn the same lesson.’

“Because stem cells don’t carry over immunologic memory. That’s really what we have tried to do. We had a track record for doing transplants for leukemia and knew how we could damage the immune system to remove it. We just applied the lessons we learned in care of patients with leukemia and applied them to this new setting.”

Not for everyone

However, the therapy is not for all MS patients.

“It is only used in very severe cases because participants face a significant risk of infection and other side-effects, including death,” Dr. Atkins said in the media release. “The risks are similar to those faced by leukemia patients undergoing this kind of treatment.”

Indeed, one participant in this study died of liver failure due to the treatment and another required intensive care for liver complications. The treatment regimen was modified to reduce toxicity, but all participants still developed fevers, which were frequently associated with infections.

People who are interested in this therapy should speak with their own neurologist, who can request a referral to The Ottawa Hospital MS Clinic or another major hospital with experience in this area. The Ottawa Hospital cannot treat people without valid Canadian health coverage.

While The Lancet paper is focused strictly on the MS patients, Dr. Atkins has also seen some success treating patients with other immunological disorders such as Stiff Person’s Syndrome, neuromyelitis optica and Crohn’s disease.

And Dr. Freedman has gone on to co-lead a new chemo-free MS clinical trial using mesenchymal stem cells. “These cells have been shown, at least in early studies in humans, to repair — period,” he explained recently. “But they happen, at the same time, to have an anti-inflammatory effect. So they may be able to accomplish both things together. Without the need of any chemo, there is very little risk to the people taking it.”

A turning point for MS

Yves Savoie, President and CEO, MS Society of Canada, called publication of the paper “a turning point” in MS care. “What started as a bold idea has translated into a treatment option for people living with highly active, relapsing MS.”

The $6.47 million trial was funded by the MS Society of Canada and its affiliated Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation. The research was also supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, The Ottawa Hospital Department of Medicine and Canadian Blood Services.

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17
Mar 2016
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Dr. William Stanford

Dr. William Stanford

Team shows stem cells reverse osteoporsis in mice

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A single injection of stem cells can reverse age-related osteoporosis in mice, a team of Canadian researchers has shown.

The discovery provides hope of some day developing a treatment for the crippling disease that affects 200 million people worldwide.…

A single injection of stem cells can reverse age-related osteoporosis in mice, a team of Canadian researchers has shown.

The discovery provides hope of some day developing a treatment for the crippling disease that affects 200 million people worldwide.

The Ottawa Hospital’s Dr. William Stanford, senior author of the study published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine, had observed that mice with age-related osteoporosis tend to have low levels of healthy mesenchymal stem cells. He theorized that injecting the diseased animals with mesenchymal stem cells from healthy mice should ease the condition.  Six months after injecting the mice, the team found that osteoporotic bone had given way to healthy, functional bone.

“We had hoped for a general increase in bone health,” co-author Dr. John E. Davies said in a University of Toronto news release. “But the huge surprise was to find that the exquisite inner ‘coral-like’ architecture of the bone structure of the injected animals — which is severely compromised in osteoporosis — was restored to normal.”

About one-quarter of Canadians will suffer a fracture because of osteoporosis at some point in their lives, costing the health-care system more than $2.3 billion each year.  There are few treatment options for the condition.

Mesenchymal stem cells can extracted fairly easily from bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue, skeletal muscle, umbilical cord blood, placenta, and other sources. A large part of their appeal is they can be transplanted from person to person without being rejected by the body’s immune system. Research also suggests they have anti-inflammatory qualities.

“We stumbled into the bone research field completely by chance a number of years ago, but we felt it was very important to pursue this because age-related osteoporosis takes a huge toll on people and the health-care system,” said Dr. Stanford in an Ottawa Hospital news release. “Obviously we have a lot more work to do, but I’m very excited by the potential that this research could one day help a lot of people.”

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02
Nov 2015
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Dr. Harry Atkins

Doctors hailed for innovative MS treatment

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Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the work that Drs. Mark Freedman and Harry Atkins are doing to fight multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases with stem cells.…

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the work that Drs. Mark Freedman and Harry Atkins are doing to fight multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases with stem cells. We have profiled both doctors and featured patients like Jennifer Molson, who had her MS eliminated by the treatment more than a decade ago.

On Friday, the Ottawa Citizen provided a comprehensive update headlined ‘Ottawa doctors behind breakthrough multiple sclerosis study.” The report focuses on Alex Normandin, who was a third-year medical student in Montreal when he became patient No. 19 of 24 in the original trial and underwent his bone marrow stem cell transplant in 2008. Now a practising MD, he told the paper that “Life is great.”

So far,  more than 30 MS patients have been treated with stem cell transplants arising from the Ottawa study, which received funding from the Research Foundation of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

It is not a treatment to be entered into lightly: the extreme chemotherapy patients go through before their own fortified stem cells are reintroduced to reboot their immune systems can be fatal.

However,  in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of MS — between 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians are affected —- such innovative treatments are  enormously encouraging.

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05
May 2015
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Dr. Mark Freedman

Dr. Mark Freedman

Beyond damage control: can MS be fixed?

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When it comes to treating multiple sclerosis (MS), Dr. Mark Freedman would like to move beyond damage control.

“We can limit, to some extent and in some cases completely, the damage,” says Dr.…

When it comes to treating multiple sclerosis (MS), Dr. Mark Freedman would like to move beyond damage control.

“We can limit, to some extent and in some cases completely, the damage,” says Dr. Freedman, a clinician/researcher at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. “But fixing the damage that’s been done? Not yet. “

Fixing the damage done by MS is the ultimate goal of a new $4.2-million clinical trial that Dr. Freedman is co-leading with Dr. James J. Marriott of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.  It’s called MESCAMS (for MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS patients).

“The excitement surrounding the MESCAMS has been tremendous,” says Yves Savoie, President and CEO, MS Society of Canada, a major supporter of the clinical trial.  “Not only is Canada fortunate to have two  trial sites in both Ottawa and Winnipeg – accepting a total of 40 Canadian participants – but MESCAMS is also part of a larger international research effort studying mesenchymal stem cells that pools scientific resources and expertise from nine countries. This level of collaboration will yield important answers about the efficacy of cell-based treatments.”

Found mostly in the bone marrow, fatty tissue and cartilage, mesenchymal stem cells have a natural anti-inflammatory effect that makes them an intriguing possibility for treating MS, which occurs when a person’s immune system attacks and inflames the protective sheath (myelin) covering nerves. Myelin damage snags the signals that flow from the brain through the nervous system to the rest of the body.

“These cells possibly will act like anti-inflammatory drugs to control the disease,” says Dr. Freedman. ”But what we’re really looking for is the potential for something to heal up, for a sign that these cells are doing something.  Other people have noted it in the optic nerve system, which is actually an extension of the brain and is affected by MS.”

Readers may be familiar with the story of Jennifer Molson, the Ottawa woman whose MS symptoms were eradicated by a stem cell bone marrow transplant conducted by Dr. Freedman and Dr. Harry Atkins as part of an earlier clinical trial. Each trial participant underwent a harrowing course of chemotherapy that virtually destroyed their immune system before being given a fortified version of their own bone marrow stem cells to rebuild it. With MESCAMS no such chemo bombardment is necessary.

“We don’t exactly know why Jennifer, and others in the trial, recovered. We think the reason is we were able to curb the inflammatory response to the point where the body could heal.  These cells that we’re using (mesenchymal stem cells) have been shown, at least in early studies in humans, to repair — period. But they happen, at the same time, to have an anti-inflammatory effect. So they may be able to accomplish both things together. And without the need of any chemo, there is very little risk to the people taking it.”

The real challenge, says Dr. Freedman, will be measuring — and scientifically documenting — repair, if it happens. “When was the last time you heard something that could repair things in MS? Nobody’s been able to show it.  So we’re hoping we will be able to see it and measure it. That’s the real goal of this study.  If we can all show the same signal through nine or 10 sites around the world doing this, then we’re going to have the evidence we need to move to the next stage, which is doing this en masse with people who have already acquired damage . That’s what our MS patients are all hoping for.“

However, Dr. Freedman urges caution.  This is an early stage clinical trial. If the mesenchymal stem cells do affect repair, it may be minimal. “The primary outcome is going to be the effect on gadolinium-enhanced lesions in MS as shown by MRI. It will prove whether we have biologically viable cells capable of creating an effect that can be measured in humans.  It may sound trivial, but it’s never been done.”

Editor’s Note: MESCAMS organizers have published a Frequently Asked Questions page about the trial here (http://bit.ly/1ES3jN1).  Full eligibility criteria are available here(https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02239393).

 

 

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29
Jan 2015
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MS Society Screen Capture

Canadian researchers unveil stem cell trial for MS

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A new clinical trial in Ottawa and Winnipeg will investigate the ability of stem cells to suppress inflammation and repair nerve tissue for people with Multiple Sclerosis, researchers announced Thursday.…

A new clinical trial in Ottawa and Winnipeg will investigate the ability of stem cells to suppress inflammation and repair nerve tissue for people with Multiple Sclerosis, researchers announced Thursday.

“The MS Society of Canada is proud to be investing in the first Canadian clinical trial studying the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis,” Yves Savoie, President and CEO, MS Society of Canada, said in a media release. “As Canada has the highest rate of the MS in the world, we are excited that Canadian researchers are among the leaders in developing a novel and effective cell-based treatment.”

The $4.2-million clinical trial, co-led by the University of Ottawa’s Dr. Mark Freedman and Dr. James J. Marriott of the University of Manitoba, is called MESCAMS (for MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS patients). It will involve 40 patients — 20 in each city — who will receive either mesenchymal stem cells extracted from their own bone marrow or a mock solution to see if the effects of the stem cells are real or triggered by a “placebo effect.”

For information about clinical trial eligibility and enrollment, click here.

“This is absolutely the kind of clinical trial that Canadians will see more of with the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan,” said James Price, CEO & President of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. “The Strategy is about bringing more clinical trials to Canada so that Canadians have early access to therapies that are proven to be safe and effective.”

As reported by Elizabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen, recent publicity around hockey legend Gordie Howe’s experimental stem cell treatment in Tijuana for stroke has focused attention on a growing international stem cell tourism industry offering unproven, untested therapies. “There is so much noise about stem cells in general and the hype that surrounds them, we are doing this study properly so we can answer the question for once and for all,” Dr. Freedman told the newspaper.

“Canada has a world-class stem cell sector and we are poised to bring new treatments to the clinic,” said Mr. Price.  “That’s why implementing the Action Plan is so important. It will mean that rigorously tested, safe and effective therapies are developed right here at home.”

Readers of this blog may be familiar with the story of Jennifer Molson who took part in a previous stem cell trial in Ottawa conducted by Dr. Freedman and Dr. Harry Atkins.  She is now free from all her previously debilitating MS symptoms. Unlike that study, which involved transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells to re-boot the immune system, there is no requirement for chemotherapy in MESCAMS.

The MESCAMS trial is part of a larger, international research effort led by Dr. Freedman and Dr.  Antonio Uccelli at the University of Genoa in Italy. The international effort links researchers from nine countries who are undertaking parallel research.

Funding for the trial, announced by the MS Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation, is also being provided by Research Manitoba and A&W Food Services of Canada

 

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22
Sep 2014
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Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld , right, interviews Tina Ceroni and Dr. Harry Atkins

Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld , right, interviews Tina Ceroni and Dr. Harry Atkins

Stem cell patient and doctor tell their story

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“It’s hard to put into words … to describe what it’s like to get your life given back to you in ways you never thought possible.”

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the story of Tina Ceroni, the Burlington, Ontario woman whose devastating Stiff Person Syndrome disease was successfully treated with a stem cell transplant by Dr.

“It’s hard to put into words … to describe what it’s like to get your life given back to you in ways you never thought possible.”

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the story of Tina Ceroni, the Burlington, Ontario woman whose devastating Stiff Person Syndrome disease was successfully treated with a stem cell transplant by Dr. Harry Atkins at the Ottawa Hospital. Over the weekend CBC Ottawa brought the patient and the doctor together to talk about how the procedure gave her her life back after the rare autoimmune disorder had taken most of it away. You can see it here.

 

 

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