A novel approach intended to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) using human embryonic stem cells has been identified and may pave the way to a promising new therapy for patients with the disease, according to scientists at the University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubation Program.

A news release from the university states that researchers demonstrated that the embryonic stem cell therapy significantly reduced MS disease severity in animal models and offered better treatment results than stem cells derived from human adult bone marrow.

ImStem Biotechnology Inc led the study, the release says, in conjunction with UConn Health professor Joel Pachter, PhD, Stephen Crocker, PhD, assistant professor, and Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) Inc. The release adds that ImStem was founded in 2012 by UConn doctors Xiaofang Wang, MD, PhD, and Ren-He Xu, MD, PhD, along with Xinghua Pan, MD, PhD, Yale University, and investor Michael Men.

The release reports that researchers compared eight lines of adult bone marrow stem cells to four lines of human embryonic stem cells. The results indicate that all of the bone marrow-related stem cells expressed high levels of cytokine. All of the human embryonic stem cell-related lines expressed little of the inflammatory cytokine, as stated in the release.

Researchers add that an advantage of human embryonic stem cells is that they can be propagated indefinitely in lab cultures and offer an unlimited source of high quality mesenchymal stem cells; the type of stem cell necessary for treatment of MS. Adult bone marrow stem cells must be obtained from a limited supply of healthy donors and are of more variable quality, the researchers explain.

The findings may also hold promise for other autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease, says Xu in the release.

Wang adds, “The beauty of this new type of mesenchymal stem cells is their remarkable higher efficiency in the MS model.”

The release notes that ImStem is currently seeking FDA approval necessary to make this treatment available to patients.

Photo Credit: Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Photo

Source: University of Connecticut