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Warning : Stem Cell Transplants

Various “firms” misleadingly appropriating the term “medical” or “scientific” are currently reaching out to MS patients to extol the effectiveness of “stem cell” transplants in treating their disease. These “transplants” are carried out abroad, in Russia, India, Israel, or in countries of Eastern Europe… They sometimes recommend “crowdfunding” among their family to raise the money needed…

It must be stressed that currently there are no scientifically established applications or clinical results for this type of treatment. Hematopoietic* stem cells are used clinically in treating leukaemia and lymphomas, successfully, and are used to regenerate blood cells after chemotherapy. Intensive research is being carried out on other stem cells, particularly those called “mesenchymal”**, for example, to induce differentiation into nerve cells, but there is currently no recognised and established clinical application in human diseases. 

The Belgian Charcot Foundation financially supports research of this kind into MS in Belgium. It could lead to protection of nerve fibres and remyelination, but this must be a rigorous process which assesses the risks and benefits and be validated in animal MS models.

* Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the stem cells that give rise to other blood cells. This process is called haematopoiesis. This process occurs in the red bone marrow, in the core of most bones.

**  Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stromal cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells) and adipocytes (fat cells which give rise to marrow adipose tissue).