Stem cells differ from other kinds of cells in the body. All stem cells—regardless of their source—have three general properties: they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods; they are unspecialized; and they can give rise to specialized cell types. Stem cells are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods. Unlike muscle cells, blood cells, or nerve cells—which do not normally replicate themselves—stem cells may replicate many times, or proliferate. A starting population of stem cells that proliferates for many months in the laboratory can yield millions of cells. If the resulting cells continue to be unspecialized, like the parent stem cells, the cells are said to be capable of long-term self-renewal
Mesenchymal Stem Cells aka"Golden Cells" (MSCs) are multi-potent progenitor cells that were originally identified in the bone marrow stroma, where they regulate key stages of haematopoiesis. They have since been identified in other anatomical locations, although their physiological roles remain unclear. MSCs can be expanded in vitro and, under appropriate conditions, can give rise to several cell types, including bone and fat precursors. The in vitro-expanded cells have remarkable immunoregulatory properties and effects on tissue repair; because of this, their potential use as therapeutic agents in vivo is being extensively studied, and has been proven effective in many documented cases.
HSCT or Hematopioetic Stem Cell Transplant, is the only existing scientifically proven treatment, currently available that completely halts disease progression of Multiple Sclerosis. It is not a new procedure as such, as it has been used to treat cancer since the 1960’s, but it is a relatively new treatment for MS. Perhaps ‘new’ is the wrong word – The first HSCT performed specifically for an autoimmune disease (uveitis) was performed in 1985 by Prof. Shimon Slavin in Israel. The patient remains cured today. The first HSCT performed specifically for MS was at George Papanicolaou General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece in 1995. However, there were many observational case studies before then focusing on the success of HSCT for MS patients that were transplanted for cancer who simultaneously had their MS halted, as an unanticipated side effect of the treatment. All of the early studies that followed, also clearly established the now (well understood) probability that transplantation earlier in the disease life cycle is more beneficial than transplanting later in the disease evolution, when there is a greater degree of irreversible disability. Dr Burt at North Western University, Chicago, started HSCT treatment back in 1996. Prior to that, while he was a Fellow working at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he noticed that the leukemia patients he was treating needed to be “re-vaccinated” because the protection from childhood diseases like the measles and mumps was being lost. The cells affected by transfusion treatments were losing the “memory” of these original childhood vaccinations.