NEW ORLEANS (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Repeated intrathecal administration of autologous mesenchymal bone marrow-derived stromal stem cells for the treatment of multiple sclerosis was safe and induced accelerated beneficial effects in some patients in an uncontrolled, prospective study.

Of 28 patients with either secondary progressive or relapsing-progressive MS who were experiencing severe clinical deterioration and failure to respond to first- and second-line immunomodulatory treatments, 25 experienced either stable or improved Expanded Disability Status Scale ( EDSS ) scores following autologous mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections. The mean score decreased from 6.76 at study entry to 6.57 at a mean follow-up of 3.6 years, Dr. Panayiota Petrou of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel, and her colleagues reported in a poster at a meeting held by the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis.

In addition, 17 patients experienced improvements in at least one functional system of the EDSS, including 14 who experienced improved motor function, 5 who experienced improved speech/bulbar functions, 4 who experienced improved urinary functions, and 6 who experienced improved cerebellar function. Eight patients remained stable during the entire follow-up period.

In a prior pilot trial , intrathecal administration of MSCs was shown to be safe and provided “some indications of potentially clinically meaningful beneficial effects on the progression of the disease,” the investigators said.

The current study provides further support for those findings. It included patients who experienced severe clinical deterioration (at least 0.5-1 points in the EDSS) during the year prior to study enrollment, or who had at least one major relapse without sufficient recovery following steroid treatment. Study subjects had a mean age of 56 years and mean disease duration of 15.4 years. They received at least 2 courses and up to 10 injections with 1 million cells/kg; most received 2 (8 patients) or 3 (9 patients) injections, and they were followed for up to 6 years.

No serious side effects were observed during long-term follow-up after repeated intrathecal injections. Eight patients experienced headaches and/or fever in the hours and days after injection, and two experienced symptoms of encephalopathy, which resolved within a few hours. Also, one patient experienced back pain and one had neck rigidity, but no long-term side effects were reported, the investigators said.

Immunological follow-up showed a transient up-regulation of regulatory T cells and down-regulation of the proliferative ability of lymphocytes and of several immune activation surface markers for up to 3 months, they noted.

The investigators reported having no disclosures.


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