Friday, April 25, 2008

Stem-cell treatment could reverse multiple sclerosis effects ‘within 15 years’

The effects of multiple sclerosis could be reversed with stem-cell treatment within 15 years, a leading expert on the disease said today.

Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, the director of a groundbreaking MS research centre in Edinburgh, said the treatment could be used to help patients suffering from the condition that weakens their body's central nervous system.

He said stem cells could be used to help repair nerve damage caused by MS. Currently, only medicines can help reduce the inflammation that causes MS.

Prof ffrench-Constant said he wants to find a way to make the body rebuild myelin – the sheath that protects nerve fibres – using stem cells, which have the ability to turn into different types of tissue.

He told The Herald newspaper: "My vision for a patient coming into a clinic in 10 or maybe 15 years' time is they will be given a mixture of drugs to prevent the inflammation and to promote repair.

"That way, MS would no longer be a chronic, disabling disease."

The MS research centre is part of the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

It was launched thanks to a major donation from Harry Potter author JK Rowling, whose mother died from the condition.

MS affects an estimated 85,000 people in the UK