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Stem Cell Transplants May Show Promise for MS

A Big Deal

A related study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's (OHSU) Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland showed that banked brain stem cells can survive and make myelin in mice with symptoms of myelin loss. This work served as one of the building blocks for the study in children with PMD.

This mouse study also gives scientists a glimpse into how these cells behave once they are transplanted, says researcher Stephen A. Back, MD, PhD. He is a clinician-scientist in the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute at OHSU Doernbecher. “When implanted, they preferentially make myelin-forming cell.”

This is a big deal.

“Stem cells are capable of making new myelin in a brain showing deterioration, and that is very exciting,” he says. “We were surprised to see how well the new myelin was able to form in symptomatic animals.”

The implications are far-reaching. For example, “if we show in a rare disorder like PMD that patients benefit from the transplants, then we will want to do newborn screening to pick up babies with the disorders and get them transplanted as soon as possible,” Back says. “The sooner you get to these kids, the better, [since] the disease can progress like gangbusters once it starts.”

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