New Clinical Trial will Test whether Stem Cells can be used to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

If one considers the most controversial topics in medical research today, high on that list would be the topic of stem cells.  Stem Cell research has come to be a very politically charged issue, with President George W. Bush outlawing their use on moral grounds, while President Obama overturned those decisions on the basis of trying to save lives with the knowledge gained from their study.  Now, with a new clinical trial that will test whether these stem cells can be used to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS), this debate should arise again.

This new trial, which was announced on July 29, 2011, will bring an aspect to these clinical studies that are not often seen.  This MS stem cell trial will not be a localized study confined to one country or a certain area.  No, the research will be comprised of around 200 patients, with the group coming from all parts of the globe.  That will give researchers a look at data from around the world and be able to compare the results against different segments of the population.  That can help sites like England, where there is a larger instance of the disease than found in other areas.

It becomes one of the most important studies going today.  The lead researcher on the case, Paolo Muraro, had some notable quotes on the Telegraph site shortly after the announcement of the study was made.  ”This is the first time that researchers from around the world have come together to test stem cell therapies in MS in such a large-scale clinical trial. A trial of this scale would be impossible to run in one location which is why this type of collaboration is essential if we are to make progress in this field.”  Those comments echo the possible great strides that could possibly be made.

So what will the trial entail you might ask.  Well researchers are set to harvest stem cells from thirteen patients and begin the process of growing them in a laboratory setting.  Once the cells have grown to the correct state, researchers will then reinsert them into the bloodstream.  Due to the fact that MS is a neurological condition whose damage often involves the central nervous system, the brain is often one of the most affected areas.  The researchers hope to see the stem cells make it to the brain area and attack things like lesions that originate out of MS and hopefully reverse the damage it has caused.

There is much hope among the scientific community that this research could lead to a definitive treatment option for MS via stem cell therapy.  At the very least, the scientists involved in this research believe that this study alone will take years off the time that it might have taken to see whether stem cell therapy would be an effective treatment option for combating MS.  If the tests prove successful, suddenly the world has hope for a cure and people will not have to spend every last cent overseas trying out a treatment option that does not work.

If the test results come back with less than desirable results, at least researchers will know to move past this particular area and try concentrating on other treatments that might be more effective.  It is a win-win situation and one that should be embraced by the world community.  The more difficult test will likely come after completion if it turns out this therapy works.  The debate will then arise about stem cell treatments and whether it is ethically right.  That is a topic for another day.