Embryonic Stem Cells Offer Promising Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis

June 17, 2014

Image Caption: ImStem Biotechnologys Xiaofang Wang, seated, and Ren-He Xu. Credit: Tina Encarnacion/UConn

University of Connecticut

Scientists in the University of Connecticuts Technology Incubation Program have identified a novel approach to treating multiple sclerosis (MS) using human embryonic stem cells, offering a promising new therapy for more than 2.3 million people suffering from the debilitating disease.

The 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.

The study was led by ImStem Biotechnology Inc. of Farmington, Conn., in conjunction with UConn Health Professor Joel Pachter, Assistant Professor Stephen Crocker, and Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) Inc. of Massachusetts. ImStem was founded in 2012 by UConn doctors Xiaofang Wang and Ren-He Xu, along with Yale University doctor Xinghua Pan and investor Michael Men.

The cutting-edge work by ImStem, our first spinoff company, demonstrates the success of Connecticuts Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine funding program in moving stem cells from bench to bedside, says Professor Marc Lalande, director of the UConns Stem Cell Institute.

The research was supported by a $1.13 million group grant from the state of Connecticuts Stem Cell Research Program that was awarded to ImStem and Professor Pachters lab.

Connecticuts investment in stem cells, especially human embryonic stem cells, continues to position our state as a leader in biomedical research, says Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. This new study moves us one step closer to a stem cell-based clinical product that could improve peoples lives.

The researchers compared eight lines of adult bone marrow stem cells to four lines of human embryonic stem cells. All of the bone marrow-related stem cells expressed high levels of a protein molecule called a cytokine that stimulates autoimmunity and can worsen the disease. All of the human embryonic stem cell-related lines expressed little of the inflammatory cytokine.

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Embryonic Stem Cells Offer Promising Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis

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