Manitoba

Innovative MS treatments slated for Health Sciences Centre

A new clinical trial announced in Winnipeg today will take stem cells from participants' bone marrow and put them back into patients. It is being led out of Ottawa, but will involve 20 participants at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre.

Trial will take stem cells from bone marrow and infuse them back into participants

A new clinical trial announced in Winnipeg today will take stem cells from participants' bone marrow and put them back into patients. It is being led out of Ottawa, but will involve 20 participants at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. 2:00

An innovative new clinical trial involving bone marrow stem cells from MS patients will involve participants at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre.

The idea is to take stem cells from a participant's own bone marrow, expand them in a lab, and then put them back into the same person, according to a release about the trial.

The trials will be held in Winnipeg and Ottawa. The announcement is taking place in Winnipeg today.
Stem cells will be frozen before being reinjected back into some patients at the Health Science Centre in its new MS clinical trial. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

The trial plans to recruit 40 patients — 20 in Winnipeg and 20 in Ottawa.

It is being led by Mark Freedman at the Ottawa Hospital. James Marriott with the University of Manitoba will lead the Winnipeg site.

Patients will be randomized into two groups — one will receive the stem cells soon after they are extracted and the others will get the treatment about six weeks later.
James Marriott with the University of Manitoba will lead the Winnipeg site for the trials. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

This trial is also part of a larger research effort involving nine countries to develop safe protocols for therapy involving these kinds of stem cells.

"The MS Society of Canada is proud to be investing in the first Canadian clinical trial studying the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis," Yves Savoie, president and CEO, MS Society of Canada said in a news release.

"As Canada has the highest rate of the MS in the world, we are excited that Canadian researchers are among the leaders in developing a novel and effective cell-based treatment for individuals with all forms of this unpredictable disease — which would be a major breakthrough in the MS research community."

Manitoba has the highest rates in Canada.

"When I was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of multiple sclerosis, I was told that my treatment options were limited and that there was a good chance I would eventually wind up in a wheelchair," Alex Normandin stated in the release.

"As a result of my participation in a previous stem cell clinical trial, led by Dr. Freedman and his team using a different type of stem cell, the progression of my disease has been arrested, I was able to return to medical school and am now able to practice the career I love as a fully licensed family physician.

Stem cell research has given me my life back," he added. 

The trial has MS patient Lizelle Mendoza feeling optimistic.

"It gives me so much hope," she said. "I mean, I've had this for how long now. Finding out about this literally last week, I was just excited."

The MS Society of Canada and MS Scientific Research Foundation are providing $4.2 million towards the trial.  

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