Stem Cell Summit Aims To Help MS Patients

Jan. 17 - KGO - An invitation-only stem cell summit is taking place in San Francisco this week, with the world's top scientists gathered to discuss the promise of stem cell research in multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Douglas Kerr is a neurologist at Johns Hopkins. He led a team of scientists there, turning embryonic stem cells of mice into motor neurons in rats, allowing paralyzed rats to walk again by reconnecting the spinal cord with muscle. It's the kind of stem cell research being shared at this summit in San Francisco.

Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins, Dept. of Neurology: "There are stem cell biologists, and we have meetings, but you never interact with clinicians, people who think about changing this into a clinical trial or a clinical therapy."

John Richert, M.D., National MS Society, VP Research: "The field has come along to a point where many things that we thought were science fiction just a few years ago, now look like they may well be doable."

That's why the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is hosting this summit, bringing together world renowned researchers to help strategize how to move stem cell therapy forward in the treatment of MS.

Dr. Hans Keirstead: "I think we're going to see a consensus view that oligodendrocytes and glea that are made from human embryonic stem cells and other stem cell types are extremely useful for drug development and basic research."

The spinal cord research of Dr. Hans Keirstead and his team at UCI is expected to lead to the first clinical trial in North America using embryonic stem cells.

Dr. Hans Keirstead: "We take human embryonic stem cells, push them to become high purity populations of one spinal cord cell type, an oligodendrocyte."

Right now, he's successfully implanted those cells in paralyzed rats.
Dr. Hans Keirstead: "What happens is the insulators are restored and the ability of the animals to walk again is also restored."

Scientists will be sharing data and research for the next two days. On Friday they'll meet in groups to hammer out some specific recommendations for the MS Society, helping nail down how stem cell research could eventually help repair the nervous system or immune system of MS patients.
Good to see. Good there are many organisations working on this. Like the MS Society.