Patients with multiple sclerosis were able to safely tolerate treatment with cells cultured from human placental tissue, according to a study published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
The study, which is the first of its kind, was conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai, Celgene Cellular Therapeutics subsidiary of Celgene Corporation and collaborators at several other institutions.
While designed to determine safety of the treatment, early signals in the data also suggested that a preparation of cultured cells called PDA-001 may repair damaged nerve tissues in patients with multiple sclerosis.
PDA-001 cells resemble mesenchymal, stromal stem cells found in many tissues of the body. Since the cells are expanded in cell cultures, one donor is able to supply enough cells for many patients.
This is the first time placenta-derived cells have been tested as a possible therapy for multiple sclerosis.
The new safety study was conducted on 16 patients with multiple sclerosis ( 10 with RRMS [ relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis ] and six with SPMS [ secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis ] ) between the ages of 18 and 65.
Six patients were given a high dose of PDA-001, another six were given a lower dose, and four patients were given placebo.
All subjects were given monthly brain scans over a six-month period to ensure they did not acquire any new or enlarging brain lesions, which would indicate a worsening of multiple sclerosis activity.
No subjects showed any paradoxical worsening on MRI [ magnetic resonance imaging ] and after one year, the majority had stable or improved levels of disability.
Researchers suspect placental stromal cells either convert to a myelin making cell, or they enhance the environment of the area where the damage is to allow for natural repair.
The long-term goal is to develop strategies to facilitate repair of the damaged nervous system. ( Xagena )
Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 2014