The following three projects have been funded in collaboration with the MS Society.

Evaluation of the Therapeutic Potential of Transplanting Neural Stem Cells in Optic Neuritis

This project will evaluate the therapeutic potential of transplanting neural stem cells in optic neuritis, or inflammation of the optic nerve in the eye. This is a symptom of MS that leaves many people with visual impairment.

As the visual pathway is the most accessible part of the human central nervous system, it makes it easier to monitor potential repair. This project will investigate the efficacy of the syngeneic neural stem cells of optic neuritis in experimental models of MS. It will also investigate how to improve stem cell-based therapies by evaluating the most appropriate route and timing of cell administration, and the best approach to achieve functional and long-lasting integration of transplanted stem cells. This will provide a tool for a seamless translation of studies into the clinical setting.

Principal Investigator:
Prof. David Baker,
Queen Mary University,

Use of Autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells to Treat Relapsing-remitting MS

Led by Dr Paolo Muraro at Imperial College London, this phase II clinical trial is part of an international collaboration involving 150 to 200 people with MS across Europe, America and Canada. Researchers at trial sites in Edinburgh and London are investigating the use of autologous mesenchymal stem cells (which come from the participants’ own bone marrow) as a form of immunotherapy to prevent and potentially reverse neurological deterioration in relapse-remitting MS. The trial will test whether stem cells can treat the active MS lesions of the participants, where damage is currently occurring to their brains.

At the end of the trial, the researchers will combine their information to get a much more accurate measure of the risks and benefits of using mesenchymal stem cells than they would by working on their own. By collaborating internationally, the time usually taken to collect, document and verify their findings will be significantly reduced.

Depending on the results of the trial, a larger, phase III clinical trial would be required to evaluate more fully the use of mesenchymal stem cells in a larger number of people, to assess the risks and benefits to participants and possibly to compare the effectiveness of the treatment with other standard therapies.

Principal Investigator:
Dr Paolo Muraro,
Imperial College London

Study into the Characteristics and Interactions of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Patients with Progressive MS

Led by Prof. Constantinescu at the University of Nottingham, this research aims to understand more about mesenchymal stem cells, which have the ability to modulate the immune system and have neuroprotective / neurorepair qualities. The project will look into the phenotypic characteristics, immune interactions and ultra-high field imaging of autologous mesenchymal stem cells. It will compare cells from people with progressive forms of MS with people without MS to help understand more about these cells in preparation for future clinical trials into effective treatments.

Principal Investigator:
Prof. Cris Constantinescu,
QMC, Nottingham

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