"Cell therapies are a promising true alternative in the treatment of previously untreatable central nervous system disorders, multiple sclerosis included," said co-author Letterio Politi, M.D., a clinical assistant in the Department of Neuroradiology at Ospedale San Raffaele in Milan, Italy.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by the destruction of myelin, the protective layers that surround nerve cells. It can affect numerous body functions, and symptoms may include visual and speech impairment, memory loss, depression, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, numbness or pain, bowel and bladder problems and sexual dysfunction. MS affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States and as many as 2.5 million worldwide, mostly women between the ages of 20 and 50, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Over 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
"Stem cells have the potential to replace the function of damaged nerve cells," said the study's senior author, Giuseppe Scotti, M.D., professor and chairman of neuroradiology at the University and Scientific Institute San Raffaele and dean of the Medical School, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan. "In this case, stem cells increase the number of glial cells, the cells that produce myelin. Myelin is then restored."
The researchers used iron particles to magnetically label neural stem cells of adult mice. Iron particles interfere with a magnetic field and thus can be easily detected with MRI. The team intravenously injected the cells into the tail vein of mice w
Contact: Maureen Morley
Radiological Society of North America