In 2002, Jennifer Molson received a stem cell transplant for her aggressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS), diagnosed six years earlier when she was 21. This unique treatment for MS – transplanting blood stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow to replace the diseased immune system – is now the subject of an article in The Lancet.
Drs. Harold Atkins and Mark Freedman of The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa are the clinical investigators behind this procedure that appears to be a breakthrough for people living with a specific form of MS.
Yves Savoie, CEO and President of the MS Society of Canada, says: “What started as a bold idea has translated into a treatment option for people living with highly active, relapsing MS. Publication of the results from this study will inform clinicians of the risks and benefits of the procedure, and pave the way for further research which could help people with all forms of MS,” according to a joint news release issued by The Ottawa Hospital, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the University of Ottawa.
The experimental treatment is intense and wasn’t successful for all the patients in the small clinical trial of 24 participants.
MS affects approximately 2.3 million people around the world, but the MS Society of Canada calls it “Canada’s disease” because your risk of developing it is greatest if you live in Canada. MS is believed to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord) and causes symptoms that range from blurred vision to extreme fatigue to partial or complete paralysis. The MS Society of Canada, and its affiliated Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation, was a big contributor to the $6.47 million trial, also supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, The Ottawa Hospital Department of Medicine and Canadian Blood Services.
Drs. Atkins and Freedman are also running a clinical trial with mesenchymal stem cells to stimulate repair of damaged nerves in MS patients. You can learn about it here. This trial is ongoing. If you want to participate, please read this.
Jennifer Molson was patient number six. Today, she has her life back. She wrote about her experience for the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s blog and she is featured in this video, along with Drs. Atkins and Freedman.
Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.
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