Stem cells used in promising MS study

FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) – There is a promising study for people with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.

At the laboratory of ImStem Biotechnology, researchers collaborated with UConn Health Center.

And their work paid off. It led to an exciting discovery for progressive MS.

“We think this will give us,” said Dr. Xiaofang Wang, Chief Technology Officer at ImStem, “a new hope that stem cells can treat this disease.”

Lead investigator Dr. Wang, alongside Dr. Joel Pachter of UConn Health Center, used embryonic stem cells to repair the neuro-inflammatory disease in mice.

In the lab, mice with MS, dragged their hind limbs but after an injection of the engineered stem cells, the damage was significantly repaired.

Dr. Pachter pointed out, “you can see these mice are walking on their hind legs.”

He added, “we’re forcing them to speak the language we want them to speak, which is repair.”

Embryonic stem cells are thought to be the key to enabling the body to heal itself.

stem cells

“You actually see them get out into the central nervous system,” explained Dr. Pachter, “and we think that it’s necessary for them to do that in order to repair the damage.”

“I’m very excited,” said Dr. Wang, “because it’s so close toward therapies that can really work for the patient and can bring benefits for the patients.”

Maureen Jessen started out with a real slight limp when she was finally diagnosed in 2002 with progressive M-S.

Currently, there are no therapies available to help slow it down.

“The thought that I could maintain my upper body mobility is really promising and if there is the possibility that I can regain back some of the mobility I have in my legs, that’s even more exciting.”

Meantime, Dr. Wang and his staff are hard at work at tweaking the research and the safety of these cells for human testing.

Dr. Wang said, “we’ve already started talking with the FDA and Phase I Human clinical trials could begin in one to two years.”

ImStem is a biotech company developing human embryonic stem cell based therapeutic products for tissue regeneration and autoimmune diseases.

It is a spin off company from the UConn Stem Cell Core.

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