Let’s talk, Multiple Sclerosis
Nerve cells communicate with each other by sending electrical signals. These signals are called action potentials and travel down to long fibers called axons, which are wrapped in an insulating substance called myelin. In Multiple Sclerosis, the body’s own immune system attacks and damages that myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals of communication.
Multiple Sclerosis also known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata is a disease where the myelin sheaths around the axons located on the brain and spinal cord are affected,this causes a demyelination. MS affects different areas of the body, but mainly it affects the ability of cells of the brain and spinal cord to communicate.
What are the main areas of affection?
Although much is known about the mechanisms involved in the disease process, the cause remains unknown. The most frequent symptoms that these patients may have in common are:
- Overall Weakness
- Difficulty walking and limited mobility
- Sleeping or resting problems.
- Hearing and speech complications.
- Affected vision
- Urinary alterations (either retaining or incontinence)
Multiple Sclerosis and the different classifications
With new symptoms occurring rapidly either in discrete attacks (relapsing) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive). Between attacks, symptoms may go away partially or completely, but permanent neurological problems are most likely to occur, especially as the disease advances. Let us explain in detail the different classifications of Multiple Sclerosis:
- Primary Progressive: This is when the patient experiences one symptom of the disease and it never goes away, it starts progressing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the progression is fast and severe, because every patient is different.
- Relapsing Remitting: In this stage the patient shows different symptoms caused by an acute crisis, these symptoms may last for a certain period of time and eventually improve until they partially or completely disappear. Periods of time can pass by, without any crisis (remission), even years, until another acute crisis shows up.
- Progressive Recurrent: Here the patients may develop multiple symptoms at once during a crisis. Some of these symptoms go away after the crisis and others remain. The patient suffers recurrent crisis accumulating symptoms therefore progressing over a period of time.
- Secondary Progressive: is a stage where patients evolve after being diagnosed with relapsing/remitting, and they stop having remission periods. Particularly sometimes patients don’t experience a relapsing crisis anymore but the symptoms never disappear and they continue developing and progressing the disease quickly.
The most common cases of Multiple Sclerosis are Primary Progressive and Remitting Recurrent.Every patient may experience the stages differently, but the one thing they have in common is the neurological degeneration.
But, what are the benefits of stem cell therapy for MS?
Mainly, the intention of Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis is to repair the myelin sheath so that it allows the proper conduction of the electrochemical impulses, which help improve the connection between cells in the nervous system. The main goals of Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis are:
- Essentially, to stop the progression of the disease. Stem cells help to control the cause by improving the autoimmune disorder occasioned from the illness.
- Help to recover the physical motor skills of the patient.
- Slow down the speed and severeness of the crisis and symptoms.
- Regenerate the damaged cells in the areas where the patient has lesions of the central nervous system.
- Diminish the frequency of crisis, increasing length of remission periods, therefore preventing the formation of new lesions and giving the body more time to regenerate damaged areas.
What’s the best method of application for Stem Cell Therapy for MS?
The best recommendation is to do the safest procedure possible, ProgenCell mainly considers autologous stem cells for Multiple Sclerosis cases, getting better results by applying Stem Cells Intravenously and Intrathecally. The safest way of performing an intrathecal puncture (Lumbar Injection) is with fresh Autologous Bone Marrow Stem Cells, this way we avoid the chance of rejection, an unwanted reaction or a transmission of a disease. We are completely open to the possible use of Allogeneic Stem Cells but since there is an added risk in intrathecal placement, we would only recommend intravenous infusion (IV) when using allogeneic stem cells. We strongly believe stem cells can regenerate damaged areas of the neurological system, but the cells have to be placed in direct contact (or very near) the damaged tissue. Therefore, to our best knowledge, the best and most beneficial option is fresh Autologous Bone Marrow Stem Cells with very high viability(alive, active and not processed or previously frozen). Allogeneic Stem Cells could be used in cases where autologous bone marrow stem cells are limited or difficult to obtain.
When talking about Bone Marrow there is a misconception about it being extremely painful to obtain, but when performed by a qualified doctor with experience, the procedure doesn’t have to be painful. It’s important to say that there shouldn’t be any pain involved, especially because this is a minimal invasive procedure performed under local anesthesia and it may only cause a bit of discomfort. Of course, there are cases in which the patients may have a background of being sensitive, having anxiety or fighting with stress and for those specific cases we may recommend sedation performed by an anesthesiologist with previous recommendations such as fasting for 6-8 hours, mild effects afterwards such as dizziness and/or light headache.
But it’s relevant to mention that the majority of our patients that don’t have any concerning background history are able to undergo through the procedure successfully without anesthesia. Since this is an ambulatory treatment it can be done with local anesthesia with the same benefits and no added secondary effects.
Allogeneic Stem Cells obtained from a safe source like a healthy patient after checking their personal and medical background are able to be used for Intravenous and Intrathecal application when processed properly in a qualified laboratory.
By Allogeneic Stem Cells we mean the use of :
- Umbilical Cord Tissue
- Adipose Tissue
- Umbilical Cord Blood
Aren’t my bone marrow stem cells old or ill?
Our body has the capacity to create and store cells just like a type of warehouse. In general, one of the most important sources for this is the Bone Marrow, inside there are areas called cell niches where there are stem cells stored. These cells are in a quiescence state, meaning that all their activity is paused temporarily, the cells are alive but they need to be activated, they only activate with the proper stimulations related to diseases, accidents or different states that may alter the regular function of the body. Our organism can only activate a certain number of cells periodically and some pathological stages exceed the capacity of regeneration and restoration of the determined cell number, that’s when it becomes chronic diseases and our body is not capable of solving or reverting the issue. When there is an extraction of autologous cells from the bone marrow the amount of cells in the sample is greater than what our organism usually is able to release regularly. Stem Cells promote the activation and restoration of the cells in the different damaged tissues and organs of the body in a way that they are able to improve the health of people with various illnesses or chronic degenerative diseases all of this thanks to Stem Cell Therapy.
So to answer accurately, NO your age has nothing to do with the quality of the cells nor the illness. This doesn’t affect your bone marrow stem cells, these cells are meant to last for the patient’s whole lifetime.
Intrathecal Injection, is it safe?
There is a small group of cells that have the capacity of passing through the hematoencephalic barrier also known as blood-brain barrier. In these particular groups, Stem Cells have privilege because they keep that capacity. However the number of cells that are able to go through the blood-brain barrier goes along with the number of stem cells applied intravenously and intrathecally. The main intention is to provide an improvement directly to the nerve tissue. Since this is a direct application, the number of stem cells that are injected that’s the amount of cells that will get to the nerve tissue, these stem cells when applied intrathecally they don’t damage the hematoencephalic barrier or blood-brain barrier, they don’t go through any other obstacle and this provides a better result and benefit to patients, they are able to recover smoothly and quickly. This application is safe and no additional reactions are shown that may be dangerous to the patients health, instead it improves the reaction of the immune system.
Is one treatment enough?
When analyzing all the chronic degenerative disorders we have to admit that unfortunately patients when they go to the doctor for an appointment it’s because their health has already presented a series of alterations or deterioration which at that point they may be irreversible. Based on that, a treatment is established and it may consist of different medications or methods to achieve an early and fast recovery along with seeking to maintain a proper health control. That’s why, assuming that having only one stem cell application will resolve all of your medical needs is considered almost impossible in our perspective. One procedure will have positive results for the patient, but maybe not enough to stop progression. Unless the patient is in a very early stage and with minimum symptoms, more than one procedure is recommended to take advantage of the full potential of this treatment.
The amount of applications and frequency of each treatment needs to be determined based on the condition of each patient and how chronic or severe is the disease that’s being treated. In the case of neurodegenerative diseases, these particular patients require more than one application. Going through a stem cell treatment at ProgenCell involves not only the application of stem cells but also personal follow up with the patient’s case, we make sure that they have a prompt recovery along with maintenance of good habits, proper nutrition or any particular needs of the patient.
Do I need to stop my current medication?
Stem cell therapy doesn’t affect nor interfere with current medication or treatment that the patient may be taking. On the contrary, some medications used for Multiple Sclerosis could affect the results of Stem Cell Therapy for example: Cortisone use or Ocrevus, these treatments are used when the patient undergoes a crisis. These medications tend to diminish the cell storage that the body has and may cause metabolic disorders, that’s why it is recommended to have a proper use of the medications and follow your doctor’s instructions before a stem cell treatment, this way stem cells will have the capacity to provide their full potential. Stem cells won’t affect your current treatment, but medication may affect your stem cell storage..
It’s important to mention that all patients have the opportunity of receiving Stem Cell Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, they have the possibility of improving their current medical and life condition. Stem Cell is a field in Regenerative Medicine that is in constant research and we are always making sure of keeping up to date to use new techniques that benefit the outcome of our patients. ProgenCell’s procedures are scientifically designed and professionally followed; we have one goal in mind: substantial health improvement of people with simple logistics.
I want my case evaluated, what do I do?
Initially we need to evaluate your information, our medical committee will review your case, current health condition and overall medical history. Once we receive your complete information we will reach you back to provide you with the doctor’s best recommendation for you. We are very honest about expectations, whether stem cell therapy is a good way for you to go or if you would benefit more from other types of treatment. We will answer as many questions as you have and if needed we can schedule you a phone call with one of our doctors from the medical committee to provide further advice. Based on the doctor’s evaluation we will be able to provide you with an accurate quote for your treatment, when a quote is provided the next step would be to consult our available scheduling dates. We try to accommodate as much to your needs as possible, but it’s also necessary to consider at least two to three weeks before coordinating any further details for your visit. . Our patient coordinator will also help you with accomodations, local transportation or any special needs.
Are you or a loved one living with Multiple Sclerosis? Call us today for a FREE consultation or fill out the Case Evaluation Form to begin.
Written by: Kimberly León
Reviewed and Approved by: Dr. Jorge Gaviño
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004) 58, 1095–1109.
Lancet Neurol 2012; 11: 150–156