Mesenychmal stem cells are found in many parts of the body including the bone marrow, skin and fat. They have been shown to suppress inflammation and repair nerve tissue, positioning them as promising candidates for the treatment of MS.
Taking place at two Canadian sites – the Ottawa Hospital and Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg – the Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Canadian MS Patients Study (MESCAMS) will provide more definitive answers about the use of these stem cells to treat people living with MS.
MESCAMS is part of a larger international research effort involving nine countries – the MESEMS study, which is supported and part funded by the MS International Federation.
Alex Normandin, a Canadian living with MS, says: “When I was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of multiple sclerosis, I was told that my treatment options were limited and that there was a good chance I would eventually wind up in a wheelchair.”
“As a result of my participation in a previous stem cell clinical trial, the progression of my disease has been arrested, I was able to return to medical school and am now able to practice the career I love as a fully licensed family physician. Stem cell research has given me my life back and there is still so much more to be learned. I am excited by the news of MESCAMS and I look forward to seeing what other life changing therapies may result from future work in the area of stem cells.”
Yves Savoie, president and CEO of the MS Society of Canada, says: “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.
“As Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, we are excited that Canadian researchers are among the leaders in developing a novel and effective cell-based treatment for individuals with all forms of this unpredictable disease – which would be a major breakthrough in the MS research community.”
According to the Atlas of MS 2013, the prevalence of MS in Canada (the number of people living with the disease compared to the general population) is 291 for every 100,000 people.